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Full text of "The mountain girl"

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Library of the 
University of North Carolina 

Endowed by the Dialectic and Pliilan- 
thropic Societies. 



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This BOOK may be kept out TWO WEEKS 
ONLY, and is subject to a fine of FIVE 
CENTS a day thereafter. It was feekgn-^OTrrTm" 
tlifi.jSijt-Hi^ieated beTo'?^: 



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11 Apr '42 



Lib. lOM-Fe '38 



THE MOUNTAIN GIRL 




)^v-iC^v>C'\ %i'-'^A 



" We will go home -to my home- Jus f like tliis^ iogrfher^ 
Frontispiece. See Page 311. 



THE MOUNTAIN GIRL 



BY 

PAYNE ERSKINE 

AUTHOE OF "when THE GATES LIFT UP THEIK PllEADS " 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY 
J. DUNCAN GLEASON 



BOSTON 
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY 

1912 



Copyright, 1911, 1912, 
By little, brown, AND COMPANY. 



All rights reserved. 



Published, March, 1912 
Reprinted, March, 1912 (five times) 



S. J. Pabkhill & Co., BOSTOK, U.S.A. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PASB 

I. In which David Thryng arrives at Carew's Cross- 
ing 1 

n. In which David Thryng experiences the Hospi- 

tahty of the Mountain People .... 10 

ni. In which Aunt Sally takes her Departure and 

meets Frale .25 

IV. David spends his First Day at his Cabin, and Frale 

makes his Confession ..... 35 

V. In which Cassandra goes to David with her Trouble, 

and gives Frale her Promise .... 47 

VI. In which David aids Frale to make his Escape . 59 
Vn. In which Frale goes down to Farington in his own 

Way 68 

Vlll. In which David Thryng makes a Discovery . . 76 

IX. In which David accompanies Cassandra on an 

Errand of Mercy 86 

X. In which Cassandra and David visit the Home of 

Decatur Irwin 94 

XI. In which Spring comes to the Mountains, and 

Cassandra tells David of her Father . . .103 

Xn. In which Cassandra hears the Voices, and David 

leases a Farm Ill 

XIII. In which David discovers Cassandra's Trouble . 120 

XIV. In which David visits the Bishop, and Frale sees 

his Enemy ....... 131 

XV. In which Jerry Carew gives David his Views on 
Future Punishment, and Little Hoyle pays him 
a Visit and is made Happy .... 144 

V 



VI 



Contents 



CHAPTER 

XVI. 



XVII. 

XVIII. 

XIX. 

XX. 

XXI. 

XXII. 
XXIII. 
XXIV. 

XXV. 
XXVI. 

XXVII. 

XXVIII. 
XXIX. 

XXX. 

XXXI. 
XXXII. 



PAGE 

In which Frale returns and listens to the Com- 
plaints of Decatur Irwin's Wife . . . 152 

In which David Thryng meets an Enemy . 164 

In which David Thryng Awakes . . .172 

In which David sends Hoke Belew on a Com- 
mission, and Cassandra makes a Confession 180 

In which the Bishop and his Wife pass an 
Eventful Day at the Fall Place . . .189 

In which the Summer Passes . . . .198 

In which David takes little Hoyle to Canada . 207 

In which Doctor Hoyle speaks his Mind . . 212 

In which David Thrjug has News from Eng- 
land 218 

In which David Thryng visits his Mother . 224 

In which David Thryng adjusts his Life to 
New Conditions 234 

In which the Old Doctor and Little Hoyle come 
back to the Mountains .... 244 

In which Frale returns to the Mountains . 253 

In which Cassandra visits David Thryng's 
Ancestors ....... 265 

In which Cassandra goes to Queensderry and 
takes a Drive in a Pony Carriage . . 276 

In which David and his Mother do not Agree . 288 

In which Cassandra brings the Heir of Danes- 
head Castle back to her Hilltop, and the 
Shadow Lifts . . . . . .300 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



"We will go home — to my home — just like 

THIS, together " Frontispiece 

*' Casabianca, was it?" said Thryng, smiling Page 17 

Skulking and hiding by day, and strug- 
gling ON again by night . . . . " 70 

It seemed to him that music must come 

FROM the flow OF HER ACTION . . " 106 

" i take it back back from god the 

promise i gave you there by the fall '* " 171 

Cassandra stood silent, quivering like 

ONE of her own mountain CREATURES 

BROUGHT TO BAY " 286 



THE MOUNTAIN GIEL 



CHAPTER I 

IN WHICH DAVID THRYNG ARRIVES AT CAREW's CROSSING 

The snow had ceased falling. No wind stirred among 
the trees that covered the hillsides, and every shrub, every 
leaf and twig, still bore its feathery, white load. Slowly 
the train labored upward, with two engines to take it the 
steepest part of the climb from the valley below. David 
Thrjmg gazed out into the quiet, white wilderness and 
was glad. He hoped Carew's Crossing was not beyond all 
this, where the ragged edge of civilization, out of which the 
toiling train had so lately lifted them, would begin again. 

He glanced from time to time at the young woman near 
the door who sat as the bishop had left her, one slight hand 
grasping the handle of her basket, and with an expression 
on her face as placid and fraught with mystery as the scene 
without. The train began to crawl more heavily, and, 
looking down, Thryng saw that they were crossing a trestle 
over a deep gorge before skirting the mountain on the 
other side. Suddenly it occurred to him that he might be 
carried beyond his station. He stopped the smiling young 
brakeman who was passing with his flag. 

'*Let me know when we come to Carew's Crossing, will 

you?" 

"Next stop, suh. Are you foh there, suh.^^" 

"Yes. How soon?" 

"Half an houh mo', suh. I'll be back d'rectly and help 
you off, suh. It's a flag station. We don't stop there 
in winter 'thout we're called to, suh. Hotel's closed 
now." 

"Hotel ? Is there a hotel ? " Thryng's voice betokened 
dismay. 

"Yes, suh. It's a right gay little place in summah, 
suh." He passed on, and Thryng gathered his scattered 



2 The Mountain Girl 

effects. Ill and weary, he was glad to find his long jour- 
ney so nearly at an end. 

On either side of the track, as far as eye could see, was 
a snow-whitened wilderness, seemingly untouched by the 
hand of man, and he felt as if he had been carried back two 
hundred years. The only hint that these fastnesses had 
been invaded by human beings was an occasional rough, 
deeply red wagon road, winding off among the hills. 

The long trestle crossed, the engines labored slowly 
upward for a time, then, turning a sharp curve, began to 
descend, tearing along the narrow track with a speed that 
caused the coaches to rock and sway; and thus they 
reached Carew's Crossing, dropping down to it like a rush- 
ing torrent. 

Immediately Thryng found himself deposited in the 
melting snow some distance from the station platform, and 
at the same instant, above the noise of the retreating train, 
he heard a cry : *'0h, suh, help him, help him ! It's poor 
little Hoyle ! " The girl whom he had watched, and 
about whom he had been wondering, flashed by him and 
caught at the bridle of a fractious colt, that was rearing 
and plunging near the corner of the station. 

"Poor little Hoyle! Help him, suh, help him!" she 
cried, clinging desperately, while the frantic animal swung 
her off her feet, close to the flying heels of the kicking mule 
at his side. 

Under the heavy vehicle to which the ill-assorted ani- 
mals were attached, a child lay unconscious, and David 
sprang forward, his weakness forgotten in the demand for 
action. In an instant he had drawn the little chap from 
his perilous position and, seizing the mule, succeeded in 
backing him to his place. The cause of its fright having 
by this time disappeared, the colt became tractable and 
stood quivering and snorting, as David took the bridle 
from the girl's hand. 

"I'll quiet them now," he said, and she ran to the boy, 
who had recovered sufficiently to sit up and gaze in a dazed 
way about him. As she bent over him, murmuring sooth- 
ing words, he threw his arms around her neck and burst 
into wild sobbing. 

"There, honey, there ! No one is hurt. You are not, 
are you, honey son?" 



David Thryng Arrives 3 

"I couldn't keep a holt of 'em,'* he sobbed. 

"You shouldn't have done it, honey. You should have 
let me get home as best I could." Her face was one 
which could express much, passive as it had been before. 
"Where was Frale.?" 

"He took the othah ho'se and lit out. They was aftah 
him. They — " 

"S-sh. There, hush ! You can stand now; try, Hoyle. 
You are a man now." 

The little fellow rose, and, perceiving Thryng for the 
first time, stepped shyly behind his sister. David noticed 
that he had a deformity which caused him to carry his 
head twisted stiffly to one side, and also that he had great, 
beautiful brown eyes, so like those of a hunted fawn as 
he turned them upon the stranger with wide appeal, that 
he seemed a veritable creature of the wilderness by which 
they were surrounded. 

Then the girl stepped forward and thanked him with 
voice and eyes; but he scarcely understood the words she 
said, as her tones trailed lingeringly over the vowels, and 
almost eliminated the "r," so lightly was it touched, 
while her accent fell utterly strange upon his English ear. 
She looked to the harness with practised eye, and then 
laid her hand beside Thryng's, on the bridle. It was a 
strong, shapely hand and wrist. 

"I can manage now," she said. "Hoyle, get my basket 
foh me." 

But Thryng suggested that she climb in and take the 
reins first, although the animals stood quietly enough now ; 
the mule looked even dejected, with hanging head and 
forward-drooping ears. 

The girl spoke gently to the colt, stroking him along the 
side and murmuring to him in a cooing voice as she 
mounted to the high seat and gathered up the reins. Then 
the two beasts settled themselves to their places with a 
wontedness that assured Thryng they would be perfectly 
manageable under her hand. 

David turned to the child, relieved him of the basket, 
which was heavy with unusual weight, and would have 
lifted him up, but Hoyle eluded his grasp, and, scrambling 
over the wheel with catlike agility, slipped shyly into his 
place close to the girl's side. Then, with more than child- 



V 



4 The Mountain Girl 

like thoughtfulness, the boy looked up into her face and 
said in a low voice : — 

*'The gen'l'man's things is ovah yandah by the track, 
Cass. He cyant tote 'em alone, I reckon. Whar is he 
goin'?" 

Then Thryng remembered himself and his needs. He 
looked at the line of track curving away up the mountain 
side in one direction, and in the other lost in a deep cut 
in the hills ; at the steep red banks rising high on each 
side, arched over by leafy forest growth, with all the in- 
terlacing branches and smallest twigs bearing their deli- 
cate burden of white, feathery snow. He caught his 
breath as a sense of the strange, untamed beauty, mar- 
vellous and utterly lonely, struck upon him. Beyond the 
tracks, high up on the mountain slope, he thought he 
spied, well-nigh hid from sight by the pines, the gambrel 
roof of a large building — or was it a snow-covered rock ? 

*'Is that a house up there .f^" he asked, turning to the 
girl, who sat leaning forward and looking steadily down at 
him. 

"That is the hotel.'* 

"A road must lead to it, then. If I could get up there, 
I could send down for my things." 

*'They is no one thar," piped the boy; and Thryng 
remembered the brakeman's words, and how he had re- 
belled at the thought of a hotel incongruously set amid this 
primeval beauty; but now he longed for the comfort of a 
warm room and tea at a hospitable table. He wished he 
had accepted the bishop's invitation. It was a predica- 
ment to be dropped in this wild spot, without a store, a 
cabin, or even a thread of blue smoke to be seen as in- 
dicating a human habitation, and no soul near save these 
two children. 

The sun was sinking toward the western hilltops, and 
a chillness began creeping about him as the shadows 
lengthened across the base of the mountain, leaving only 
the heights in the glowing light. 

" Really, you know, I can't say what I am to do. I'm 
a stranger here — " 

It seemed odd to him at the moment, but her face, 
framed in the huge sunbonnet, — a delicate flower set 
in a rough calyx, — suddenly lost all expression. She 



David Thryng Arrives 5 

did not move nor open her lips. Thryng thought he 
detected a look of fear in the boy's eyes, as he crept closer 
to her. 

In a flash came to him the realization of the difficulty. 
His friend had told him of these people, — their occupa- 
tions, their fear of the world outside and below their fast- 
nesses, and how zealously they guarded their homes and 
their rights from outside intrusion, yet how hospitable 
and generous they were to all who could not be considered 
their hereditary enemies. 

He hastened to speak reassuring words, and, bethinking 
himself that she had called the boy Hoyle, he explained 
how one Adam Hoyle had sent him. 

"The doctor is my friend, you know. He built a cabin 
somewhere within a day's walk, he told me, of Carew's 
Crossing, on a mountain top. Maybe you knew him .^" 

A slight smile crept about the girl's lips, and her eyes 
brightened. "Yes, suh, we-all know Doctah Hoyle." 

"I am to have the cabin — if I can find it — live there 
as he did, and see what your hills will do for me." He 
laughed a little as he spoke, deprecating his evident weak- 
ness, and, lifting his cap, wiped the cold moisture from 
his forehead. 

She noted his fatigue and hesitated. The boy's question- 
ing eyes were fixed on her face, and she glanced down into 
them ^ an answering look. Her lips parted, and her eyes 
glowed as she turned them again on David, but she spoke 
still in the same passive monotone. 

"Oh, yes. My little brothah was named foh him, — 
Adam Hoyle, — but we only call him Hoyle. It's a right 
long spell since the Doctah was heah. His cabin is right 
nigh us, a little highah up. Theah is no place wheah you 
could stop nighah than ouahs. Hoyle, jump out and help 
fetch his things ovah. You can put them in the back of 
the wagon, suh, and ride up with us. I have a sight of 
room foh them." 

The child was out and across the tracks in an instant, 
seizing a valise much too hea\'y for him, and Thryng cut 
his thanks short to go to his relief. 

"I kin tote it," said the boy shrilly. 

"No, no. I am the biggest, so I'll take the big ones. 
You bring the bundle with the strap around it — so. 



6 The Mountain Girl 

Now we shall get on, shan't we ? But you are pretty 
strong for a little chap;" and the child's face radiated 
smiles at the praise. 

Then David tossed in valise and rug, without which last 
no Englishman ever goes on a journey, and with much 
effort they managed to pull the box along and hoist it 
also into the wagon, the body of which was filled with corn 
fodder, covered with an old patchwork quilt. 

The wagon was of the rudest, clumsiest construction, 
the heavy box set on axles without springs, but the young 
physician was thankful for any kind of a conveyance. 
He had been used to life in the wild, taking things as 
he found them — bunking in a tent, a board shanty, or 
out under the open sky; with men brought heterogene- 
ously together, some merely rough woodsmen in their 
natural environment, others the scum of the cities to whom 
crime was become first nature, decency second, and others, 
fleeing from justice and civilized law, hiding ofttimes a 
fine nature delicately reared. During this time he had 
seldom seen a woman other than an occasional camp fol- 
lower of the most degraded sort. 

Inured thus, he did not find his ride, embedded with 
good corn fodder, much of a hardship, even in a springless 
wagon over mountain roads. Wrapped in his rug, he 
braced himself against his box, with his face toward the 
rear of the wagon, and gazed out from under its arching 
canvas hood at the wild way, as it slowly unrolled behind 
them, and was pleased that he did not have to spend the 
night under the lee of the station. 

The lingering sunlight made fiaming banners of the snow 
clouds now slowly drifting across the sky above the white 
world, and touched the highest peaks with rose and gold. 
The shadows, ever changing, deepened from faintest pink- 
mauve through heliotrope tints, to the richest violet in 
the heart of the gorges. Over and through all was the 
witching mystery of fairy-like, snow-wreathed branches 
and twigs, interwoven and arching up and up in faint per- 
spective to the heights above, and down, far down, to 
the depths of the regions below them; and all the time, 
mingled with the murmur of the voices behind him, 
and the creaking of the vehicle in which they rode, and the 
tramp of the animals when they came to a hard roadbed 



David Thryng Arrives TJ 

with rock foundation, — noises which were not loud, but 
which seemed to be covered and subdued by the soft snow 
even as it covered everything, — could be heard a Hght 
dropping and pattering, as the overladen last year's leaves 
and twigs dropped their white burden to the ground. 
Sometimes the great hood of the wagon struck an over- 
hanging bough and sent the snow down in showers as 
they passed. 

Heavily they climbed up, and warily made their descent 
of rocky steeps, passing through boggy places or splashing 
in clear streams which issued from springs in the mountain 
side or fell from some distant height, then climbing again 
only to wind about and again descend. Often the way was 
rough with boulders that had never been blasted out, — ■ 
sometimes steeply shelving where the gorge was deepest 
and the precipice sheerest. Past all dangers the girl drove 
with skilful hand, now encouraging her team with her 
low voice, now restraining them, where their load crowded 
upon them over slippery, shelving rocks, with strong pulls 
and sharp command. David marvelled at her serenity 
under the strain, and at her courage and deftness. With 
the calmness of the boy nestling at her side, he resigned him- 
self to the sweet witchery of the time and place. Glanc- 
ing up at the high seat behind him, he saw the child's feet 
dangling, and knew they must be cold. 

"Why can't your little brother sit back here with me V 
he said; "I'll cover him mth my rug, and we'll keep each 
other warm." 

He saw the small hunched back stiffen, and try to appear 
big and manly, but she checked the team at a level dip in 
the road. 

"Yes, sonny, get ovah theah with the gentleman. 
It'll be some coldah now the sun's gone." But the little 
man was shyly reluctant to move. "Come, honey. 
Sistah'd a heap rathah you would." 

Then David, reached up and gently lifted the atom of 
manhood, of pride, sensitiveness, and affection, over where 
he caused him to snuggle down in the fodder close to his 
side. 

For a while the child sat stiffly aloof, but gradually his 
little form relaxed, and his head drooped sideways in the 
hollow of the stranger's shoulder, held comfortably by 



8 The Mountain Girl 

Thryng's kindly encircling arm. Soon, with his small feet 
wrapped in the w^arm, soft rug, he slept soundly and sweetly, 
rocked, albeit rather roughly, in the jolting wagon. 

Thryng also dreamed, but not in sleep. His mind was 
stirred to unusual depths by his strange surroundings — 
the silence, the mystery, the beauty of the night, and the 
suggestions of grandeur and power dimly revealed by the 
moonlight which bathed the world in a flood of glory. 

He was uplifted and drawn out of himself, and at the 
same time he was thrown back to review his life and to 
see his most inward self, and to marvel and question the 
wherefore of it all. Why was he here, away from the ac- 
tive, practical affairs which interest other men ? Was he 
a creature of ideals only, or was he also a practical man, 
taking the wisest means of reaching and achieving results 
most worth while ? He saw himself in his childhood — 
in his youth — in his young manhood — even to the 
present moment, jogging slowly along in a far country, 
rough and wild, utterly dependent on the courtesy of a 
slight girl, who held, for the moment, his life in her hands; 
for often, as he gazed into the void of darkness over nar- 
row ledges, he knew that only the skill of those two small 
hands kept them from sliding into eternity : yet there was 
about her such an air of wontedness to the situation that 
he was stirred by no sense of anxiety for himself or for her. 

He took out his pipe and smoked, still dreaming, com- 
paring, and questioning. Of ancient family, yet the 
younger son of three generations of younger sons, all prob- 
ability of great inheritance or title so far removed from 
him, it behooved that he build for himself — what.f^ 
Fortune, name, everything. Character ? Ah, that was 
his heritage, all the heritage the laws of England allowed 
him, and that not by right of English law, but because, 
fixed in the immutable, eternal Will, some laws there are 
beyond the power of man to supersede. With an invol- 
untary stiffening of his body, he disturbed for an instant 
the slumbering child, and quite as involuntarily he drew 
him closer and soothed him back to forgetfulness; and 
they both dreamed on, the child in his sleep, and the man 
in his wide wakefulness and intense searching. 

His uncle, it is true, would have boosted him far toward 
creating both name and fame for himself, in either army 



David Thryng Arrives 9 

or navy, but lie would none of it. There was his older 
brother to be advanced, and the younger son of this same 
uncle to be placed in life, or married to wealth. This also 
he might have done ; well married he might have been 
ere now, and could be still, for she was waiting — only — 
an ideal stood in his way. Whom he would, marry he 
would love. Not merely respect or like, — not even both, — 
but love he must ; and in order to hold to this ideal he 
must fly the country, or remain to be unduly urged to his 
own discomfiture and possibly to their mutual undoing. 

As for the alternatives, the army or the navy, again his 
ideals had formed for him impassable bars. He would 
found his career on the sa\'ing rather than the taking of 
life. Perhaps he might yet follow in the wake of armies 
to mend bodies they have torn and cut and maimed, and 
heal diseases they have engendered — yes — perhaps — 
the ideals loomed big. But what had he done ? Fled 
his country and deftly avoided the most heart-satisfying 
of human delights — children to call him father, and wife 
to make him a home ; peace and wealth ; thrust aside the 
helping hand to power and a career considered most worthy 
of a strong and resourceful man, and thrown personal 
ambition to the winds. Why ? Because of his ideals — 
preferring to mend rather than to mar his neighbor. 

Surely he was right — and yet — and yet. What had 
he accomplished ? Taken the making of his life into his 
own hands and lost — all — if health were really gone. 
One thing remained to him — the last rag and remnant 
of his cherished ideals — to live long enough to triumph 
over his own disease and take up work again. Why 
should he succumb ? Was it fate ? Was there the guid- 
ance of a higher will ? Might he reach out and partake 
of the Divine power ? But one thing he knew ; but one 
thing could he do. As the glory of white light around him 
served to reveal a few feet only of the way, even as the 
density beyond seemed impenetrable, still it was but 
seeming. There was a beyond — vast — mysterious — 
which he must search out, slowly, painfully, if need be, 
seeing a little way only, but seeing that little clearly, 
revealed by the white light of spirit. His own or God's ? 
Into the infinite he must search — search — and at last 
surely find. 



CHAPTER II 

IN WHICH DAVID THRYNG EXPERIENCES THE HOSPITALITY 

OF THE MOUNTAIN PEOPLE 

Suddenly the jolting ceased. The deep stillness of the 
night seemed only intensified by the low panting of the 
animals and the soft dropping of the wet snow from 
the trees. 

"What is it ?" said Thryng, peering from under the can- 
vas cover. "Anything the matter ?" 

The beasts stood with low-swung heads, the vapor 
rising white from their warm bodies, wet with the melting 
snow. His question fell unheard, and the girl who was 
climbing down over the front wheel began to unhitch the 
team in silence. He rolled the sleeping child in his rug and 
leaped out. 

"Let me help you. What is the trouble ? Oh, are you 
at home ? '* 

" I can do this, suh. I have done it a heap of times. 
Don't go nigh Pete, suh. He's mighty quick, and he's 
mean." The beast laid back his ears viciously as David 
approached. 

"You ought not go near him yourself," he said, taking 
a firm grip of the bridle. 

^ "Oh, he's safe enough with me — or Frale. Hold him 
tight, suh, now you have him, till I get round there. 
Keep his head towa'ds you. He certainly is mean." 

The colt walked off to a low stack of corn fodder, as 
she turned him loose with a light slap on the flank; and 
the mule, impatient, stamping and sidling about, stretched 
forth his nose and let out his raucous and hideous cry. 
While he was thus occupied, the girl slipped off his har- 
ness and, taking the bridle, led the beast away to a small 
railed enclosure on the far side of the stack ; and David 
stood alone in the snow and looked about him. 

He saw a low, rambling house, which, although one struc- 
ture, appeared to be a series of houses, built of logs plas- 
tered with clay in the chinks. It stood in a tangle of wild 

10 



The Mountain People 1 1 

growth, on what seemed to be a wide ledge jutting out from 
the side of the mountain, which loomed dark and high 
behind it. An incessant, rushing sound pervaded the 
place, as it were a part of the silence or a breathing of 
the mountain itself. Was it wind among the trees, or 
the rushing of water ? No wind stirred now, and yet 
the sound never ceased. It must be a torrent swollen 
by the melting snow. 

He saw the girl moving in and out among the shadows, 
about the open log stable, like a wraith. The braying of 
the mule had disturbed the occupants of the house, for 
a candle was placed in a window, and its little ray streamed 
forth and was swallowed up in the moonlight and black 
shades. The child, awakened by the horrible noise of 
the beast, rustled in the corn fodder where Thryng had 
left him. Dazed and wondering, he peered out at the 
young man for some moments, too shy to descend until 
his sister should return. Now she came, and he scrambled 
down and stood close to her side, looking up weirdly, his 
twisted little form shivering and quaking. 

*'Run in, Hoyle," she said, looking kindly down upon 
him. "Tell mothah we're all right, son." 

A woman came to the door holding a candle, which 
she shaded w^th a gnarled and bony hand. 

*'That you, Cass "? " she quavered. "Who aire ye 
talkin' to.^" 

"Yes, Aunt Sally, we'll be there directly. Don't let 
mothah get cold." She turned again to David. "I 
reckon you'll have to stop with us to-night. It's a right 
smart way to the cabin, and it'll be cold, and nothing 
to eat. We'll bring in your things now, and in the morn- 
ing we can tote them up to your place with the mule, 
and Hoyle can go with you to show you the way." 

She turned toward the wagon as if all were settled, 
and Thryng could not be effusive in the face of her direct 
and conclusive manner ; but he took the basket from her 
hand. 

" Let me — no, no — I will bring in everything. Thank 
you very much. I can do it quite easily, taking one 
at a time." Then she left him, but at the door she met 
him and helped to Kft his heavy belongings into the 
house. 



12 The Mountain Girl 

The room he entered was warm and brightly lighted 
by a pile of blazing logs in the great chimneyplace. He 
walked toward it and stretched his hands to the fire — 
a generous fire — the mountain home's luxury. 

Something was cooking in the ashes on the hearth 
which sent up a savory odor most pleasant and appealing 
to the hungry man. The meagre boy stood near, also 
warming his little body, on which his coarse garments 
hung limply. He kept his great eyes fixed on David's 
face in a manner disconcerting, even in a child, had Thryng 
given his attention to it, but at the moment he was in- 
terested in other things. Dropped thus suddenly into 
this utterly alien environment, he was observing the 
girl and the old woman as intently, though less openly, as 
the boy was watching him. 

Presently he felt himself uncannily the object of a 
scrutiny far different from the child's wide-eyed gaze, 
and glancing over his shoulder toward the corner from 
which the sensation seemed to emanate, he saw in the 
depths of an old four-posted bed, set in their hollow sockets 
and roofed over by projecting light eyebrows, a pair of 
keen, glittering eyes. 

" Yas, you see me now, do ye ? " said a high, thin voice 
in toothless speech. "Who be ye .^^ " 

His physician's feeling instantly alert, he stepped to the 
bedside and bent over the wasted form, which seemed 
hardly to raise the clothing from its level smoothness, as 
if she had lain motionless since some careful hand had 
arranged it. 

"No, ye don't know me, I reckon. 'Tain't likely. Wlio 
be ye ? " she iterated, still looking unflinchingly in his eyes. 

"Hit's a gentleman who knows Doctah Hoyle, mothah. 
He sent him. Don't fret you'se'f," said the girl soothingly. 

"I'm not one of the frettin' kind," retorted the mother, 
never taking her eyes from his face, and again speaking 
in a weak monotone. "Who be ye ?'* 

"My name is David Thryng, and I am a doctor," he said 
quietly. 

"Where be ye from .?" 

"I came from Canada, the country where Doctor 
Hoyle lives." 

"I reckon so. He used to tell 'at his home was thar." 



The Mountain People 13 

A pallid hand was reached slowly out to him. "I'm 
right glad to see ye. Take a cheer and set. Bring a 
cheer, Sally." 

But the girl had already placed him a chair, which he 
drew close to the bedside. He took the feeble old hand 
and slipped his fingers along to rest lightly on the wrist. 

"You -needn't stan' watchin' me, Cass. You 'n' Sally 
set suthin' fer th' doctah to eat. I reckon ye're all about 
gone fer hunger." 

• *'Yes, mothah, right soon. Fry a little pork to go with 
the pone, Aunt Sally. Is any coffee left in the pot ? " 

"I done put in a lee tie mo' when I heered the mule 
hollah. I knowed ye'd want it. Might throw in a mite 
mo' now th' gentleman's come." 

The two women resumed their preparations for supper, 
the boy continued to stand and gaze, and the high voice 
of the frail occupant of the bed began again to talk and 
question. 

"When did you come down f'om that thar country whar 
Doctah Hoyle lives at ? " she said, in her monotonous 
wail. 

"Four days ago. I travelled slowly, for I have been 
ill myself.'' 

"Hit's right quare now; 'pears like ef I was a doctah I 
wouldn't 'low myself fer to get sick. An' you seed Doctah 
Hoyle fo' days back ! " 

"No, he has gone to England on a visit. I saw his wife, 
though, and his daughter. She is a young lady — is to 
be married soon." 

"They do grow up — the leetle ones. Hit don't seem 
mo'n yestahday 'at Cass was like leetle Hoyle yandah, 
an' hit don't seem that since Doctah Hoyle was here 
an' leetle Hoyle came. We named him fer th' doctah. 
Waal, I reckon ef th' doctah was here now 'at he could 
he'p me some. Maybe ef he'd 'a' stayed here I nevah 
would 'a' got down whar I be now. He was a right good 
doctah, bettah'n a yarb doctah — most — I reckon so." 

David smiled. "I think so myself," he said. "Are 
there many herb doctors here about ? " 

"Not rightly doctahs, so to speak, but they is some 'at 
knows a heap about yarbs." 

Good. Perhaps they can teach me something." 



(( 



14 The Mountain Girl 

The old face was feebly lifted a bit from the pillow, and 
the dark eyes grew suddenly sharp in their scrutiny. 

"Who be ye, anyhow? What aire ye here fer? Sech 
as you knows a heap a'ready 'thout makin' out to larn 
o' we-uns." 

David saw his mistake and hastened to allay the sus- 
picion which gleamed out at him almost malignantly. 

"I am just what I said, a doctor like Adam Hoyle, 
only that I don't know as much as he — not yet. The 
wisest man in the world can learn more if he watches out 
to do so. Your herb doctors might be able to teach me a 
good many things." 

"I 'spect ye're right thar, on'y a heap o* folks thinks 
they knows it all fust." 

There w^as a pause, and Thryng leaned back in his stiff, 
splint-bottomed chair and glanced around him. He saw 
that the girl, although moving about setting to rights 
and brushing here and there with an unique, home-made 
broom, was at the same time intently listening. 

Presently the old w^oman spoke again, her threadlike 
voice penetrating far. 

"What do you 'low to do here in ouah mountains? 
They hain't no settlement nighabouts here, an* them what's 
sick hain't no money to pay doctahs with. I reckon they'll 
hev to stay sick fer all o' you-uns." 

David looked into her eyes a moment quietly ; then he 
smiled. The way to her heart he saw was through the 
magic of one name. 

"What did Doctor Hoyle do when he was down here ? " 

"Him ? They hain't no one livin' like he was." 

Then David laughed outright, a gay, contagious laugh, 
and after an instant she laughed also. 

"I agree with you," he said. "But you see, I am a 
countryman of his, and he sent me here — he knows me 
well — and I mean to do as he did, if — I can." 

He drew in a deep breath of utter weariness, and leaned 
forward, his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands, and 
gazed into the blazing fire. The memories which had 
taken possession of his soul during the long ride seemed 
to envelop him so that in a moment the present was 
swept away into oblivion and his spirit was, as it were, 
suddenly withdrawn from the body and projected into 



The Mountain People 15 

the past. He had been unable to touch any of the greasy 
cold stuff which had been offered him during the latter 
part of his journey, and the heat brought a drowsiness 
on him and a faintness from lack of food. 

"Cass — Cassandry ! Look to him," called the mother 
shrilly, but the girl had already noticed his strange ab- 
straction, and the small Adam Hoyle had drawn back, 
in awe, to his mother. 

" Get some whiskey, Sally," said the girl, and David 
roused himself to see her bending over him. 

"I must have gone off in a doze," he said weakly. 
"The long ride and then this warmth — " Seeing the 
anxious faces around him, he laughed again. "It's noth- 
ing, I assure you, only the comfort and the smell of some- 
thing good to eat;" he sniffed a little. "What is it?" 
he asked. 

Old Sally was tossing and shaking the frying salt pork 
in the skillet at the fireplace, and the odor aggravated 
his already too keen appetite. 

"Ye was more'n sleepy, I reckon," shrilled the woman 
from the bed. " Hain't that pone done, Sally .? No, 'tain't 
liquor he needs ; hit's suthin' to eat." 

Then the girl hastened her slow, gliding movements, 
drew splint chairs to a table of rough pine that stood 
against the side of the room, and, stooping between him 
and the fire, pulled something from among the hot ashes. 
The fire made the only light in the room, and David 
never forgot the supple grace of her as she bent thus 
silhouetted — the perfect line of chin and throat black 
against the blaze, contrasted with the weird, witchlike old 
woman with roughly knotted hair, who still squatted in 
the heat, and shook the skillet of frying pork. 

"Thar, now hit's done, I reckon," said old Sally, slowly 
rising and straightening her bent back; and the woman 
from the bed called her orders. 

"Not that cup," she cried, as Sally began pouring black 
coffee into a cracked white cup. " Git th' chany one. I hid 
hit yandah in th' cornder 'hind that tin can, to keep 'em 
f'om usin' hit every day. I had a hull set o' that when I 
married Farwell. Give hit here." She took the precious 
relic in her work-worn hands and peered into it, then wiped 
it out with the corner of the sheet which covered her. 



16 The Mountain Girl 

This ThrjTig did not see. He was watching the girl, as 
she broke open the hot, fragrant corn-bread and placed it 
beside his plate. 

'* Come," she said. "You sure must be right hungry. Sit 
here and eat." David felt like one drunken with weari- 
ness when he rose, and caught at the edge of the table to 
steady himself. 

"Aren't you hungry, too ?" he asked, "and Hoyle, here } 
Sit beside me ; we're going to have a feast, little chap." 

The girl placed an earthen crock on the table and took 
from it honey in the broken comb, rich and dark. 

" Have a little of this with your pone. It's right good," 
she said. 

"Frale, he found a bee tree," piped the child suddenly, 
gaining confidence as he saw the stranger engaged in the 
very normal act of eating with the relish of an ordinary 
man. He edged forward and sat himself gingerly on the 
outer corner of the next chair, and accepted a huge piece 
of the pone from David's hand. His sister gave him honey, 
and Sally dropped pieces of the sizzling hot pork on their 
plates, from the skillet. 

David sipped his coffee from the flowered "chany cup" 
contentedly. Served without milk or sugar, it was strong, 
hot, and reviving. The girl shyly offered more of the corn- 
bread as she saw it rapidly disappearing, pleased to see 
him eat so eagerly, yet abashed at having nothing else to 
offer. 

"I'm sorry we can give you only such as this. We 
don't live like you do in the no'th. Have a little more of 
the honey." 

"Ah, but this is fine. Good, hey, little chap? You 
are doing a very beneficent thing, do you know, saving a 
man's life V He glanced up at her flushed face, and she 
smiled deprecatingly. He fancied her smiles were rare. 

"But it is quite true. Where would I be now but for 
you and Hoyle here ^ Lying under the lee side of the 
station coughing my life away, — and all my own fault, 
too. I should have accepted the bishop's invitation." 

"You helped me when the colt was bad." Her soft 
voice, low and monotonous, fell musically on his ear when 
she spoke. 

"Naturally — but how about that, anyway? It's a 



The Mountain People 17 

wonder you weren't killed. How came a youngster like 
you there alone with those beasts ? " Thryng had an abrupt 
manner of springing a question which startled the child, 
and he edged away, furtively watching his sister. 

"Did you hitch that kicking brute alone and drive all 
that distance V 

"Aunt Sally, she he'ped me to tie up; she give him co'n 
whilst I th'owed on the strops, an' when he's oncet tied up, 
he goes all right." The atom grinned. "Hit's his way. 
He's mean, but he nevah works both ends to oncet." 

"Good thing to know; but you're a hero, do you under- 
stand that.^" The child continued to edge away, and 
David reached out and drew him to his side. Holding 
him by his two sharp little elbows, he gave him a playful 
shake. "I say, do you know what a hero is.'^" 

The startled boy stopped grinning and looked wildly to 
his sister, but receiving only a smile of reassurance from 
her, he lifted his great eyes to Thryng's face, then slowly 
the little form relaxed, and he was drawn within the doc- 
tor's encircling arm. 

"I don't reckon," was all his reply, which ambiguous 
remark caused David, in his turn, to look to the sister for 
elucidation. She held a long, lighted candle in her hand, 
and paused to look back as she was leaving the room. 

"Yes, you do, honey son. You remembah the boy with 
the quare long name sistah told you about, who stood there 
when the ship was all afiah and wouldn't leave because 
his fathah had told him to bide ? He was a hero." 
But Hoyle was too shy to respond, and David could feel 
his little heart thumping against his arm as he held him. 

"Tell the gentleman, Hoyle. He don't bite, I reckon," 
called the mother from her corner. 

"His name begun like yourn, Cass, but I cyan't re- 
membah the hull of it." 

"Casablanca, was it ?" said Thryng, smiling. 

"I reckon. Did you-uns know him ? " 

"\Mien I was a small chap like you, I used to read about 
him." Then the atom yielded entirely, and leaned com- 
fortably against David, and his sister left them, carrying 
the candle with her. 

Old Sally threw another log on the fire, and the flames 
leaped up the cavernous chimney, lighting the room with 



18 The Mountain Girl 

dramatic splendor. Thr3mg took note of its unique fur- 
nishing. In the corner opposite the one where the mother 
lay was another immense four-poster bed, and before it 
hung a coarse homespun curtain, half concealing it. At 
its foot was a huge box of dark wood, well-made and strong, 
with a padlock. This and the beds seemed to belong to 
another time and place, in contrast to the other articles, 
which were evidently mountain made, rude in construction 
and hewn out by hand, the chairs unstained and unpol- 
ished, and seated with splints. 

The walls were the roughly dressed logs of which the 
house was built, the chinks plastered with deep red-brown 
clay. Depending from nails driven in the logs were fes- 
toons of dried apple and strips of dried pumpkin, and 
hanging by their braided husks were bunches of Indian 
corn, not yellow like that of the north, but white or purple. 

There were bags also, containing Thryng knew not 
what, although he was to learn later, when his own larder 
came to be eked out by sundry gifts of dried fruit and sweet 
corn, together with the staple of beans and peas from the 
widow's store. 

Beside the window of small panes was a shelf, on which 
were a few worn books, and beneath hung an almanac; 
at the foot of the mother's bed stood a small spinning- 
wheel, with the wool still hanging to the spindle. David 
wondered how long since it had been used. The scru- 
pulous cleanliness of the place satisfied his fastidious 
nature, and gave him a sense of comfort in the homely 
interior. He liked the look of the bed in the corner, made 
up high and round, and covered with marvellous patchwork. 

As he sat thus, noting all his surroundings, Hoyle still 
nestled at his side, leaning his elbows on the doctor's knees, 
his chin in his hands, and his soft eyes fixed steadily 
on the doctor's face. Thus they advanced rapidly toward 
an amicable acquaintance, each questioning and being 
questioned. 

"What is a *bee tree' ?" said David. "You said some- 
body found one." 

"Hit's a big holler tree, an' hit's plumb full o' bees an* 
honey. Frale, he found this'n." 

"Tell me about it. Where was it?" 

"Hit war up yandah, highah up th' mountain. They is 



The Mountain People 19 

* 

a hole thar what wiF cats live in, Wil' Cat Hole. Frale, he 
war a hunt'n' fer a cat. Some men thar at th' hotel, they 
war plumb mad to hunt a wil' cat with th' dogs, an' Frale, 
he 'lowed to git th' cat fer 'em." 

"And when was that ?" 

"Las' summah, v»^hen th' hotel war open. They war 
a heap o' men at th' hotel." 

"And now about the bee tree.^" 

"Frale, he nevah let on like he know'd thar war a bee 
tree, an' then this fall he took me with him, an' we made a 
big fire, an' then w^e cut down th' tree, an' we stayed thar 
th' hull day, too, an' eat thar an' had ros'n ears by th' fire, 
too." 

"I say, you know. There seem to be a lot of things you 
will have to enlighten me about. After you get through 
with the bee tree you must tell me what * ros'n ears' are. 
And then what did you do .^ " 

"Thar war a heap o' honey. That tree, hit war nigh- 
about plumb full o' honey, and th' bees war that mad you 
couldn't let 'em come nigh ye 'thout they'd sting you. 
They stung me, an' I nevah hollered. Frale, he 'lowed ef 
you hollered, you wa'n't good fer nothin', goin' bee hunt'n'.'* 

"Is Frale j^our brother.^" 

"Yas. He c'n do a heap o' things, Frale can. They 
war a heap o' honey in that thar tree, 'bout a bar'l full, er 
more'n that. We hev a hull tub o' honey out thar in 
th' loom shed yet, an' maw done sont all th' rest to th' 
neighbors, 'cause maw said they wa'n't no use in humans 
bein' fool hogs like th' bees war, a-keepin' more'n they could 
eat jes' fer therselves." 

"Yas," called the mother from her corner, where she 
had been admiringly listening; "they is a heap like that- 
a-way, but hit ain't our way here in th' mountains. Let 
th' doctah tell you suthin' now, Hoyle, — ye mount larn a 
heap if ye'd hark to him right smart, 'thout talkin' th' hull 
time youse'f." 

"I has to tell him 'bouts th' ros'n ears — he said so. 
Thar they be." He pointed to a bunch of Indian corn. 
"You wrop 'em up in ther shucks, whilst ther green an' 
sof, and kiver 'em up in th' ashes whar hit's right hot, 
and then when ther rosted, eat 'em so. Now, what do 
you know ? " 



20 The Mountain Girl 

"Why, he knows a heap, son. Don't ax that-a-way." 

"In my country, away across the ocean — " began 
David. 

"Tell 'bout th' ocean, how hit look." 

"In my country we don't have Indian corn nor bee trees, 
nor wild cat holes, but we have the ocean all around us, and 
we see the ships and — " 

"Like that thar one whar th' boy stood whilst hit war 
on fire ? " 

"Something like, yes." Then he told about the sea 
and the ships and the great fishes, and was interrupted 
with the query : — 

"Reckon you done seed that thar fish what swallered 
the man in th' Bible an' then th'ow'd him up agin.'^" 

"^Vhy no, son, you know that thar fish war dade long 
'fore we-uns war born. You mustn't ax fool questions, 
honey." 

Old Sally sat crouched by the hearth intently listening 
and asking as naive questions as the child, whose pallid 
face grew pink and animated, and whose eyes grew larger 
as he strove to see with inward vision the things Thryng 
described. It was a happy evening for little Hoyle. 
Leaning confidingly against David, he sighed with reple- 
tion of joy. He was not eager for his sister to return — 
not he. He could lean forever against this wonderful 
man and listen to his tales. But the doctor's weariness 
was growing heavier, and he bethought himself that the 
girl had not eaten with them, and feared she was taking 
trouble to prepare quarters for him, when if she only knew 
how gladly he would bunk down anywhere, — only to 
sleep while this blessed and delicious drowsiness was over- 
powering him. 

"Where is your sister, Hoyle .^^ Don't you reckon it's 
time you and I were abed ? " he asked, adopting the child's 
vernacular. 

"She's makin' yer bed ready in th' loom shed, likely," 
said the mother, ever alert. With her pale, prematurely 
wrinkled face and uncannily bright and watchful eyes, she 
seemed the controlling, all-pervading spirit of the place. 
"Run, child, an' see what's keepin' her so long." 

"Hit's dark out thar," said the boy, stirring himself 
slowly. 



The Mountain People 21 

"Run, honey, you hain't af eared, kin drive a team all 
by you'se'f. Dark hain't nothin' ; I ben all ovah these 
heah mountains when thar wa'n't one star o' light. Maybe 
you kin he'p her." 

At that moment she entered, holding the candle high 
to light her way through what seemed to be a dark passage, 
her still, sweet face a bit flushed and stray taches of 
white cotton down clinging to her blue homespun dress. 
"The doctah's mos' dade fer sleep, Cass." 

"I am right sorry to keep you so long, but we are 
obleeged — " 

She lifted troubled eyes to his face, as Thryng inter- 
rupted her. 

"Ah, no, no! I really beg your pardon — for coming 
in on you this way — it was not right, you know. It was 
a — a — predicament, wasn't it ? It certainly wasn't 
right to put you about so ; if — you will just let me go 
anywhere, only to sleep, I shall be greatly obliged. I'm 
making you a lot of trouble, and I'm so sorry." 

His profusion of manner, of which he was entirely un- 
aware, embarrassed her ; although not shy like her brother, 
she had never encountered any one who spoke with such 
rapid abruptness, and his swift, penetrating glance and 
pleasant ease of the world abashed her. For an instant 
she stood perfectly still before him, slowly comprehend- 
ing his thought, then hastened with her inherited, inborn 
ladyhood to relieve him from any sense that his sudden 
descent upon their privacy was an intrusion. 

Her mind moved along direct lines from thought to 
expression — from impulse to action. She knew no con- 
ventional tricks of words or phrases for covering an awk- 
ward situation, and her only way of avoiding a self-betrayal 
was by silence and a masklike impassivity. During this 
moment of stillness while she waited to regain her poise, 
he, quick and intuitive as a woman, took in the situation, 
yet he failed to comprehend the character before him. 

To one accustomed to the conventional, perfect sim- 
plicity seems to conceal something held back. It is hard 
to believe that all is being revealed, hence her slower 
thought, in reality, comprehended him the more truly. 
What he supposed to be pride and shame over their meagre 
accommodations was, in reality, genuine concern for his 



22 The Mountain Girl 

comfort, and embarrassment before his ease and ready 
phrases. As in a swift breeze her thoughts were caught 
up and borne away upon them, but after a moment they 
would sweep back to her — a flock of innocent, startled 
doves. 

Still holding her candle aloft, she raised her eyes to his 
and smiled. *'We-uns are right glad you came. If you 
can be comfortable where we are obliged to put you to 
sleep, you must bide awhile." She did not say " obleeged " 
this time. He had not pronounced it so, and he must 
know. 

"That is so good of you. And now you are very tired 
yourself and have eaten nothing. You must have your 
own supper. Hoyle can look after me." He took the 
candle from her and gave it to the boy, then turned his 
own chair back to the table and looked inquiringly at Sally 
squatted before the fire. "Not another thing shall you 
do for me until you are waited on. Take my place here." 

•David's manner seemed like a command to her, and she 
slid into the chair with a weary, drooping movement. 
Hoyle stood holding the candle, his wry neck twisting his 
head to one side, a smile on his face, eying them sharply. 
He turned a questioning look to his sister, as he stiffened 
himself to his newly acquired importance as host. 

Thryng walked over to the bedside. "In the morning, 
when we are all rested, I'll see what can be done for you," 
he said, taking the proffered old hand in his. "I am not 
Dr. Hoyle, but he has taught me a little. I studied and 
practised with him, you know." 

"Hev ye? Then ye must know a heap. Hit's right 
like th' Lord sont ye. You see suthin' 'peared like to give 
Yv^ay whilst I war a-cuttin' light 'ud th' othah day, an' I 
went all er a heap 'crost a log, an' I reckon hit hurt me 
some. I hain't ben able to move a foot sence, an' I lay 
out thar nigh on to a hull day, whilst Hoyle here run clar 
down to Sally's place to git her. He couldn't lif me 
hisse'f , he's that weak ; he tried to haul me in, but when 
I hollered, — sufferin' so I war jes' 'bleeged to holler, — he 
kivered me up whar I lay and lit out fer Sally, an' she an' 
her man they got me up here, an' here I ben ever since. I 
reckon I never will leave this bed ontwell I'm cyarried out 
in a box." 



The Mountain People £S 

"Oh, no, not that ! You're too much ahve for that. 
We'll see about it to-morrow. Good night." 

"Hoyle may show you the way," said the girl, rising. 
" Your bed is in the loom shed. I'm right sorry it's so cold. 
I put blankets there, and you can use all you like of them. 
I would have given you Frale's place up garret — only — 
he might come in any time, and — " 

"Naw, he won't. He's too skeered 'at — " Hoyle's 
interruption stopped abruptly, checked by a glance of his 
sister's eye. 

"I hope you'll sleep well — " 

" Sleep .^ I shall sleep like a log. I feel as if I could 
sleep for a week. It's awfully good of you. I hope we 
haven't eaten all the supper, Hoyle and I. Come, little 
chap. Good night." He took up his valise and followed 
the boy, leaving her standing by the uncleared table, gaz- 
ing after him." 

'*Now you eat, Cassandry. You are nigh about per- 
ished you are that tired," said her mother. 

Then old Sally brought more pork and hot pone from 
the ashes, and they sat down together, eating and sipping 
their black coffee in silence. Presently Hoyle returned 
and began removing his clumsy shoes, by the fire. 

"Did he ax ye a heap o' questions, Hoyle .f^" queried 
the old woman sharply. 

*'Naw. Did'n' ax noth'n'." 

"Waal, look out 'at you don't let on nothin' ef he does. 
Talkin' may hurt, an' hit may not." 
• "He hain't no government man, maw." 

"Hit's all right, I reckon, but them 'at larns young to 
hold ther tongues saves a heap o' trouble fer therselves." 

After they had eaten, old Sally gathered the few dishes 
together and placed all the splint-bottomed chairs back 
against the sides of the room, and, only half disrobing, 
crawled into the far side of the bed opposite to the mother's, 
behind the homespun curtain. 

"To-morrow I reckon I kin go home to my old man, 
now you've come, Cass." 

^ "Yes," said the girl in a low voice, "you have been right 
kind to we-all. Aunt Sallv." 

Then she bent over her mother, ministering to her few 
wants ; lifting her forward, she shook up the pillow, and 



24 The Mountain Girl 

gently laid her back upon it, and lightly kissed her cheek. 
The child had quickly dropped to sleep, curled up like a 
ball in the farther side of his mother's bed, undisturbed 
by the low murmur of conversation. Cassandra drew 
her chair close to the fire and sat long gazing into the 
burning logs that were fast crumbling to a heap of glowing 
embers. She uncoiled her heavy bronze hair and combed 
it slowly out, until it fell a rippling mass to the floor, as 
she sat. It shone in the firelight as if it had drawn its 
tint from the fire itself, and the cold night had so filled it 
with electricity that it flew out and followed the comb, as if 
each hair were alive, and made a moving aureola of warm 
red amber about her drooping figure in the midst of the 
sombre shadows of the room. Her face grew sad and her 
hands moved listlessly, and at last she slipped from her 
chair to her knees and wept softly and prayed, her lips 
forming the words soundlessly. Once her mother awoke, 
lifted her head slightly from her pillow and gazed an in- 
stant at her, then slowly subsided, and again slept. 



CHAPTER III 

IN WHICH AUNT SALLY TAKES HER DEPARTURE AND MEETS 

FRALE 

The loom shed was one of the log cabins connected with 
the main building by a roofed passage, which Thryng had 
noticed the evening before as being an odd fashion of house 
architecture, giving the appearance of a small flock of 
cabins all nestling under the wings of the old building in 
the centre. 

The shed was dark, having but one small window with 
glass panes near the loom, the other and larger opening 
being tightly closed by a wooden shutter. David slept 
late, and awoke at last to find himself thousands of miles 
away from his dreams in this unique room, all in the deep- 
est shadow, except for the one warm bar of sunlight which 
fell across his face. He drowsed off again, and his mind 
began piecing together fragments and scenes from the 
previous day and evening, and immediately he was sur- 
rounded by mystery, moonlit, fairylike, and white, a little 
crooked being at his side looking up at him like some 
gnome creature of the hills, revealed as a part of the en- 
chantment. Then slowly resolving and melting away after 
the manner of dreams, the wide spaces of the mystery 
drew closer and warmer, and a great centre of blazing logs 
threw grotesque, dancing lights among them, and an old,';^ 
face peered out with bright, keen eyes, now seen, now lost 
in the fitful shadows, now pale and appealing or cautiously 
withdrawn, but always watching — watching while the 
little crooked being came and watched also. Then be- 
tween him and the blazing light came a dark figure sil- 
houetted blackly against it, moving, stooping, rising, 
going and coming — a sweet girl's head with heavily 
coiled hair through which the firelight played with flashes 
of its own color, and a delicate profile cut in pure, clean lines 
melting into throat and gently rounded breast; like a 
spirit, now here, now gone, again near and bending over 
him, — a ministering spirit bringing him food, — until 

25 



26 The Mountain Girl 

gradually this half wake, dreaming reminiscence concen- 
trated upon her, and again he saw her standing holding the 
candle high and looking up at him, — a wondering, ques- 
tioning spirit, — then drooping wearily into the chair by the 
uncleared table, and again waiting with almost a smile on 
her parted lips as he said "good night." Good night? 
Ah, yes. It was morning. 

Again he heard the continuous rushing noise to which 
he had listened in the white mystery, that had soothed 
him to slumber the night before, rising and falling — 
never ceasing. He roused himself with sudden energy and 
bounded from his couch. He would go out and inves- 
tigate. His sleep had been sound, and he felt a rejuve- 
nation he had not experienced in many months. When 
he threw open the shutter of the large unglazed window 
space and looked out on his strange surroundings, he 
found himself in a new world, sparkling, fresh, clear, 
shining with sunlight and glistening with wetness, as though 
the whole earth had been newly washed and varnished. 
The sunshine streamed in and warmed him, and the air, 
filled with winelike fragrance, stirred his blood and set 
his pulses leaping. 

He had been too exhausted the previous evening to do 
more than fall into the bed which had been provided him 
and sleep his long, uninterrupted sleep. Now he saw 
why they had called this part of the home the loom shed, 
for between the two windows stood a cloth loom left just 
as it had been used, the warp like a tightly stretched 
veil of white threads, and the web of cloth begun. 

In one corner were a few bundles of cotton, one of 
which had been torn open and the contents placed in a 
thick layer over the long bench on which he had slept, 
and covered with a blue and white homespun counter- 
pane. The head had been built high with it, and sheets 
spread over all. He noticed the blankets which had 
covered him, and saw that they were evidently of home 
manufacture, and that the white spread which covered 
them was also of coarse, clean homespun, ornamented 
in squares with rude, primitive needlework. He mar- 
velled at the industry here represented. 

As for his toilet, the preparation had been most simple. 
A shelf placed on pegs driven between the logs supported 



Aunt Sally meets Frale 27 

a piece of looking-glass ; a splint chair set against the wall 
served as wash-stand and towel-rack — the homespun 
cotton towels neatly folded and hung over the back ; 
a wooden pail at one side was filled with clear water, over 
which hung a dipper of gourd; a white porcelain basin 
was placed on the chair, over which a clean towel had 
been spread, and to complete all, a square cut from the 
end of a bar of yellow soap lay beside the basin. 

David smiled as he bent himself to the refreshing task 
of bathing in water so cold as to be really icy. Indeed, 
ice had formed over still pools without during the night, 
although now fast disappearing under the glowing morn- 
ing sun. Above his head, laid upon cross-beams, were 
bundles of wool uncarded, and carding-boards hung from 
nails in the logs. In one corner was a rudely constructed 
reel, and from the loom dangled the idle shuttle filled 
with fine blue yarn of wool. Thryng thought of the worn 
old hands which had so often thrown it, and thinking 
of them he hastened his toilet that he might go in and 
do what he could to help the patient. It was small enough 
return for the kindness shown him. He feared to offer 
money for his lodgment, at least until he could find a 
way. 

At last, full of new vigor and very hungry, he issued 
from his sleeping-room, sadly in need of a shave, but 
biding his time, satisfied if only breakfast might be forth- 
coming. He had no need to knock, for the house door 
stood open, flooding the place with sunlight and frosty 
air. The huge pile of logs was blazing on the hearth 
as if it had never ceased since the night before, and the 
flames leaped hot and red up the great chimney. 

Old Sally no longer presided at the cookery. With 
a large cup of black coffee before her, she now sat at the 
table eating corn-bread and bacon. A drooping black 
sunbonnet on her head covered her unkempt, grizzly hair, 
and a cob pipe and bag of tobacco lay at her hand. She 
was ready for departure. Cassandra had returned, and 
her gratuitous neighborly offices were at an end. The 
girl was stooping before the fire, arranging a cake of corn- 
bread to cook in the ashes. A crane swung over the 
flames on which a fat iron kettle was hung, and the large 
coffee-pot stood on the hearth. The odor of breakfast was 



28 ' The Mountain Girl 

savory and appetizing. As David's tall form cast a shadow 
across the sunlit space on the floor, the old mother's voice 
called to him from the corner. 

"Come right in, Doctah; take a cheer and set. Your 
breakfast's ready, I reckon. How have you slept, suh V 

The girl at the fire rose and greeted him, but he missed 
the boy. "Where's the httle chap .^ " he asked. 

" Cassandry sont him out to wash up. F'ust thing 
she do when she gets home is to begin on Hoyle and wash 
him up." 

"He do get that dirty, poor little son," said the girl. 
"It's like I have to torment him some. Will you have 
breakfast now, suh .^ Just take your chair to the table, 
and I'll fetch it directly." 

"Won't I, though! What air you have up here! It 
makes me hungry merely to breathe. Is it this way all 
the time ^ " 

"Hit's this-a-way a good deal," said Sally, from under 
her sunbonnet. "Oh, the' is days hit's some colder, 
like to make water freeze right hard, but most days hit's 
a heap warmer than this." 

"That's so," said the invalid. "I hev seen it so warm 
a heap o' winters 'at the trees gits fooled into thinkin' hit's 
spring an' blossoms all out, an' then come along a late 
freez'n' spell an' gits ther fruit all killed. Hit's quare 
how they does do that-a-way. We-all hates it when the 
days come warm in Feb'uary." 

"Then you must have been glad to have snow yester- 
day. I was disappointed. I was running away from 
that sort of thing, you know." 

Thryng's breakfast was served to him as had been 
his supper of the evening before, directly from the fire. 
As he ate he looked out upon the usual litter of corn fodder 
scattered about near the house, and a few implements of 
the simplest character for cultivating the small pocket of 
rich soil below, but beyond this and surrounding it was 
a scene of the wildest beauty. Giant forest trees, inter- 
twined and almost overgrown by a tangle of wild grape- 
vines, hid the fall from sight, and behind them the moun- 
tain rose abruptly. A continuous stream of clearest 
water, icy cold, fell from high above into a long trough 
made of a hollow log. There at the running water stood 



Aunt Sally meets Frale 29 

little Hoyle, his coarse cotton towel hung on an azalia 
shrub, giving himself a thorough scrubbing. In a moment 
he came in panting, shivering, and shining, and still wet 
about the hair and ears. 

"Why, you are not half dry, son," said his sister. She 
took the towel from him and gave his head a vigorous 
rubbing. " Go and get warm, honey, and sister'U give 
you breakfast by the fire." She turned to David : " Likely 
you take milk in your coffee. I never thought to ask 
you." She left the room and returned with a cup of 
new milk, warm and sweet. He was glad to get it, 
finding his black coffee sweetened only with molasses 
unpalatable. 

"Don't you take milk in your coffee.'^ How came you 
to think of it for me ? " 

"I knew a lady at the hotel last summer. She said 
that up no*th 'most everybody does take milk or cream, 
one, in their coffee." 

" I never seed sech. Hit's clar waste to my thinkin'." 

Cassandra smiled. "That's because you never could 
abide milk. Mothah thinks it's only fit to make buttah 
and raise pigs on." 

Old Sally's horse, a thin, wiry beast, gray and speckled, 
stood ready saddled near the door, his bridle hanging 
from his neck, the bit dangling while he also made his 
repast. When he had finished his corn and she had 
finished her elaborate farewells at the bedside, and little 
Hoyle had with much effort succeeded in bridling her 
steed, she stepped quickly out and gained her seat on the 
high, narrow saddle with the ease of a young girl. Meagre 
as a willow withe in her scant black cotton gown, perched 
on her bony gray beast, and only the bowl of her cob 
pipe projecting beyond the rim of her sunbonnet as indi- 
cation that a face might be hidden in its depths, with a 
meal sack containing in either end sundry gifts — salt pork, 
chicken, corn-bread, and meal — slung over the horse's back 
behind her, and with contentment in her heart. Aunt 
Sally rode slowly over the hills to rejoin her old man. 

Soon she left the main road and struck out into a steep, 
narrow trail, merely a mule track arched with hornbeam 
and dogwood and mulberry trees, and towered over by 



30 The Mountain Girl 

giant chestnuts and oaks and great white pines and deep 
green hemlocks. Through myriad leafless branches the 
wind soughed pleasantly overhead, unfelt by her, so com- 
pletely was she protected by the thickly growing laurel 
and rhododendron on either side of her path. The snow 
of the day before was gone, leaving only the glistening 
wetness of it on stones and fallen leaves and twigs under- 
foot, while in open spaces the sun beat warmly down 
upon her. 

The trail led by many steep scrambles and sharp de- 
scents more directly to her home than the road, which 
wound and turned so frequently as to more than double 
the distance. At intervals it cut across the road or fol- 
lowed it a little w^ay, only to diverge again. Here and 
there other trails crossed it or branched from it, leading 
higher up the mountain, or off into some gorge following 
the course of a stream, so that, except to one accustomed 
to its intricacies, the path might easily be lost. 

Old Sally paid no heed to her course, apparently leav- 
ing the choice of trails to her horse. She sat easily on the 
beast and smoked her pipe until it was quite out, when she 
stowed it away in the black cloth bag, which dangled from 
her elbow by its strings. Spying a small sassafras shrub 
leaning toward her from the bank above her head, she gave 
it a vigorous pull as she passed and drew it, root and all, 
from its hold in the soil, beat it against the mossy bank, 
and swished it upon her skirt to remove the earth cling- 
ing to it. Then, breaking off a bit of the root, she chewed 
it, while she thrust the rest in her bag and used the top 
for a switch with which to hasten the pace of her nag. 

The small stones, loosened when she tore the shrub 
from the bank, rattled down where the soil had been 
washed away, leaving the steep shelving rock side of the 
mountain bare, and she heard them leap the smooth space 
and fall softly on the moss among the ferns and lodged 
leaves below. There, crouched in the sun, lay a man 
with a black felt hat covering his face. The stones falling 
about him caused him to raise himself stealthily and peer 
upward. Descrying only the lone woman and the gray 
horse, he gave a low peculiar cry, almost like that of an 
animal in distress. She drew rein sharply and listened. 
The cry was repeated a little louder. 



Aunt Sally meets Frale 31 

"Come on up hyar, Frale. Hit's on'y me. Hu' come 

you thar ?** 

He climbed rapidly up through the dense undergrowth, 
and stood at her side, breathing quickly. For a moment 
they waited thus, regarding each other, neither speaking. 
The boy — he seemed little more than a youth — looked 
up at her with a singularly innocent and appealing ex- 
pression, but gradually as he saw her impassive and un- 
relenting face, his own resumed a hard and sullen look, 
which made him appear years older. His forehead was 
damp and cold, and a lock of silken black hair, slightly 
curling over it, increased its whiteness. Dark, heavy rings 
were under his eyes, which gleamed blue as the sky be- 
tween long dark lashes. His arms dropped listlessly at 
his side, and he stood before her, as before a dread judge, 
bareheaded and silent. He bore her look only for a minute, 
then dropped his eyes, and his hand clinched more tightly 
the rim of his old felt hat. When he ceased looking at 
her, her eyes softened. 

"I 'low ye mus' hev suthin' to say fer yourse'f," she 
said. 

"I reckon." The corners of his mouth drooped, and 
he did not look up. He made as if to speak further, but 
only swallowed and was silent. 

*'Ye reckon.'' Waal, why 'n't ye say .^^ " 

**They hain't nothin' to say. He war mean an' — an' — 
he's dade. I reckon he's dade." 

"Yas, he's dade — an' they done had the buryin'." 
Her voice was monotonous and plaintive. A pallor swept 
over his face, and he drew the back of his hand across 
his mouth. 

**He knowed he hadn't ought to rile me like he done. 
I be'n tryin' to make his hoss go home, but I cyan't. 
Hit jes' hangs round thar. I done brung him down an' 
lef him in your shed, an' I 'lowed p'rhaps Uncle Jerry'd 
take him ovah to his paw." Again he swallowed and 
turned his face away. "The critter 'd starve up yander. 
Anyhow, I ain't hoss stealin'. Hit war mo'n a hoss 'twixt 
him an' me." From the low, quiet tones of the two no 
one would have dreamed that a tragedy lay beneath their 
words. 

"Look a-hyar, Frale. Thar wa'n't nothin' 'twixt him 



32 The Mountain Girl 

an' you. Ye war both on ye full o' mean corn whiskey, 
an' ye war quarrellin' 'bouts Cass." A faint red stole into 
the boy's cheeks, and the blue gleam of his eyes between 
the dark lashes narrowed to a mere line, as he looked an 
instant in her face and then off up the trail. 

*' Hain't ye seed nobody .^^ " he asked. 

"You knows I hain't seed nobody to hurt you-uns 
*thout I'd tell ye. Look a-hyar, son, you are hungerin'. 
Come home with me, an' I'll get ye suthin' to eat. Ef you 
don't, ye'll go back an' fill up on whiskey agin, an' thar'll 
be the end of ye." He walked on a few steps at her side, 
then stopped suddenly. 

"I 'low I better bide whar I be. You-uns hain't been 
yandah to the fall, have ye .'^ " 

*'I have. You done a heap mo'n you reckoned on. 
When Marthy heered o' the killin', she jes' drapped whar 
she stood. She war out doin' work 'at you'd ought to 'a' 
been doin' fer her, an' she hain't moved sence. She like 
to 'a' perished lyin' out thar. Pore little Hoyle, he run all 
the way to our place he war that skeered, an' 'lowed she 
war dade, an' me an' the ol' man went ovah, an' thar we 
found her lyin' in the yard, an' the cow war lowin' to be 
milked, an' the pig squeelin' like hit war stuck, fer hunger. 
Hit do make me clar plumb mad when I think how you hev 
acted, — jes' like you' paw. Ef he'd nevah 'a' started 
that thar still, you'd nevah 'a' been what ye be now, 
a-drinkin' yer own whiskey at that. Come on home with 



me." 



"I reckon I'm bettah hyar. They mount be thar 
huntin' me." 

"I know you're hungerin*. I got suthin' ye can eat, 
but I 'lowed if you'd come, I'd get you an' the ol' man 
a good chick'n fry." She took from her stores, slung over 
the nag, a piece of corn-bread and a large chunk of salt 
pork, and gave them into his hand. "Thar ! Eat. Hit's 
heart 'nin'." 

He was suffering, as she thought, and reached eagerly 
for the food, but before tasting it he looked up again into 
her face, and the infantile appeal had returned to his eyes. 

"Tell me more 'bouts maw," he said. 

"You eat, an' I'll talk," she replied. He broke a large 
piece from the corn-cake and crowded the rest into his 



Aunt Sally meets Frale 33 

pocket. Then he drew forth a huge clasp-knife and cut 
a thick sHce from the raw salt pork, and pulhng a red cotton 
handkerchief from his belt, he wrapped it around the re- 
mamder and held it under his arm as he ate. 

"She hain't able to move 'thout hollerin', she's that 
bad hurted. Paw an* I, we got her to bed, an' I been 
thar ever since with all to do ontwell Cass come. Likely 
she done broke her hip." 

"Is Cass thar now ? Hu' come she thar ?" Again the 
blood sought his cheeks. 

"Paw rode down to the settlement and telegrafted fer 
her. Pore thing! You don't reckon what-all you have 
done. I wisht you'd 'a' took aftah your maw. She war 
my own sister, 'nd she war that good she must 'a' went 
straight to glory when she died. Your paw, he like 
to 'a' died too that time, an' when he married Marthy 
Merlin, I reckoned he war cured o' his ways ; but hit 
did'n' last long. Marthy, she done well by him, an' she 
done well by 3^ou, too. They hain't nothin' agin Marthy. 
She be'n a good stepmaw to ye, she hev, an' now see how 
you done her, an' Cass givin' up her school an' comin' 
home thar to ten' beastes an' do your work like she war 
a man. Her family wa'n't brought up that-a-way, nor 
mine wa'n't neither. Big fool Marthy war to marry with 
your paw. Hit's that-a-way with all the Farwells; they 
been that quarellin' an' bad, makin' mean whiskey an' 
drinkin' hit raw, killin' hyar an' thar, an' now you go 
doin' the same, an' my own nephew, too." Her face re- 
mained impassive, and her voice droned on monotonously, 
but two tears stole down her wrinkled cheeks. His face 
settled into its harder lines as she talked, but he made no 
reply, and she continued querulously : "Why'n't you pay 
heed to me long ago, when I tol' ye not to open that thar 
still again ? You are a heap too young to go that-a-way, 
— my own kin, like to be hung fer man-killin'." 

"WTien did Cass come?" he interrupted sullenly. 
Las evenm . 

"I'll drap 'round thar this evenin' er late night, I reckon. 
I have to get feed fer my own hoss an' tote hit up er take 
him back — one. All I fetched up last week he done et." 
He turned to walk away, but stood with averted head as 
she began speaking again. 



34 ' The Mountain Girl 

"Don't you do no such fool thing. You keep clar o* 
thar. Bring the hoss to me, an* I'll ride him home. What 
you want o' the beast on the mountain, anyhow ? Hit's 
only like to give away whar ye'r' at. All you want is to git 
to see Cass, but hit won't do you no good, leastways not 
now. You done so bad she won't look at ye no more, 
I reckon. They is a man thar, too, now." He started 
back, his hands clinched, his head lifted, in his whole air 
an animal-like ferocity. "Thar now, look at ye. 'Tain't 
you he's after." 

" 'Tain't me I'm feared he's after. How come he thar ^ " 

"He come with her las' evenin' — " A sound of horses' 
hoofs on the road far below arrested her. They both 
waited, listening intently. "Thar they be. Git," she 
whispered. "Cass tol' me ef I met up with ye, to say 'at 
she'd leave suthin' fer ye to eat on the big rock 'hind the 
holly tree at the head o' the fall." She leaned down to 
him and held him by the coat an instant, "Son, leave 
whiskey alone. Hit's the only way you kin do to get her." 

"Yas, Aunt Sally," he murmured. His eyes thanked 
her with one look for the tone or the hope her words held 
out. 

Again the laugh, nearer this time, and again the wild 
look of haunting fear in his face. He dropped where he 
stood and slipped stealthily as a cat back to the place 
where he had lain, and crawling on his belly toward a 
heap of dead leaves caught by the brush of an old fallen 
pine, he crept beneath them and lay still. His aunt did 
not stir. Patting her horse's neck, she sat and waited 
until the voices drew nearer, came close beneath her as the 
road wound, and passed on. Then she once more moved 
along toward her cabin. 



CHAPTER IV 

DAVID SPENDS HIS FIRST DAY AT HIS CABIN, AND FRALE 

]VIAKES HIS CONFESSION 

Doctor Hoyle had built his cabin on one of the pinna- 
cles of the earth, and David, looking down on blue bil- 
lowing mountain tops with only the spaces of the air 
between him and heaven — between him and the ocean — 
between him and his fair English home — felt that he 
knew why the old doctor had chosen it. 

Seated on a splint-bottomed chair in the doorway, 
pondering, he thought first of his mother, with a little 
secret sorrow that he could not have taken to his heart the 
bride she had selected for him, and settled in his own home 
to the comfortable ease the wife's wealth would have se- 
cured for him. It was not that the money had been made 
in commerce ; he was neither a snob nor a cad. Although 
his own connections entitled him to honor, what more 
could he expect than to marry wealth and be happy, if 
— if happiness could come to either of them in that way. 
No, his heart did not lean toward her ; it was better that 
he should bend to his profession in a strange land. But 
not this, to live a hermit's life in a cabin on a wild hilltop. 
How long must it be — how long ? 

Brooding thus, he gazed at the distance of ever paling 
blue, and mechanically counted the ranges and peaks 
below him. An inaccessible tangle of laurel and rhodo- 
dendron clothed the rough and precipitous w^ali of the 
mountain side, which fell sheer down until lost in purple 
shadow, with a mantle of green, deep and rich, varied by 
the gray of the lichen-covered rocks, the browns and reds 
of the bare branches of deciduous trees, and the paler 
tints of feathery pines. Here and there, from damp, 
spring^^ places, dark hemlocks rose out of the mass, tall 
and majestic, waving their plumy tops, giant sentinels 
of the wilderness. 

Gradually his mood of brooding retrospect changed, 
and he knew himself to be glad to his heart's core. He 

35 



36 The Mountain Girl 

could understand why, out of the turmoil of the Middle 
Ages, men chose to go to sequestered places and become 
hermits. No tragedies could be in this primeval spot, 
and here he would rest and build again for the future. 
He was pleased to sit thus musing, for the climb had taken 
more strength than he could well spare. His cabin was 
not yet habitable, for the simple things Doctor Hoyle had 
accumulated to serve his needs were still locked in well- 
built cupboards, as he had left them. 

Thryng meant soon to go to work, to take out the bed 
covers and air them, and to find the canvas and nail it 
over the framework beside the cabin which was to serve 
as a sleeping apartment. All should be done in time. 
That was a good framework, strongly built, with the corner 
posts set deep in the ground to keep it firm on this wind- 
swept height, and with a door in the side of the cabin 
opening into the canvas room. Ah, yes, all that the old 
doctor did was well and thoroughly done. 

His appetite sharpened by the climb and the bracing air, 
David investigated the contents of one of those melon- 
shaped baskets which Cassandra had given him when 
he started for his new home that morning, with little Hoyle 
as his guide. 

Ah, what hospitable kindness they had shown to him, 
a stranger ! Here were delicate bits of fried chicken, sweet 
and white, corn-bread, a glass of honey, and a bottle of 
milk. Nothing better need a man ask ; and what animals 
men are, after all, he thought, taking delight in the mere 
acts of eating and breathing and sleeping. 

Utterly weary, he would not trouble to open the cot 
which lay in the cabin, but rolled himself in his blanket 
on the wide, flat rock at the verge of the mountain. Here, 
warmed by the sun, he lay with his face toward the blue 
distance and slept dreamlessly and soundly, — very 
soundly, for he was not awakened by a crackling of the 
brush and scrambling of feet struggling up the mountain 
wall below his hard resting-place. Yet the sound kept 
on, and soon a head appeared above the rock, and two 
hands were placed upon it ; then a strong, catlike spring 
landed the lithe young owner of the head only a few feet 
away from the sleeper. 

It was Frale, his soft felt hat on the back of his head 



Frale's Confession 37 

and the curl of dark hair falHng upon his forehead. For 
an instant, as he gazed on the sleeping figure, the wild look 
of fear was in his eyes ; then, as he bethought himself of 
the words of Aunt Sally, "They is a man thar," the ex- 
pression changed to one more malevolent and repulsive, 
transforming and aging the boyish face. Cautiously 
he crept nearer, and peered into the face of the uncon- 
scious Englishman. His hands clinched and his lips 
tightened, and he made a movement with his foot as if 
he would spurn him over the cliff. 

As suddenly the moment passed ; he drew back in shame 
and looked down at his hands, blood-guilty hands as he 
knew them to be, and, with lowered head, he moved swiftly 
away. 

He was a youth again, hungry and sad, stumbling along 
the untrodden way, avoiding the beaten path, yet un- 
erringly taking his course toward the cleft rock at the head 
of the fall behind the great holly tree. It was not the food 
Cassandra had promised him that he wanted now, but 
to look into the eyes of one who would pity and love him. 
Heartsick and weary as he never had been in all his young 
life, lonely beyond bearing, he hurried along. 

As he forced a path through the undergrowth, he heard 
the sound of a mountain stream, and, seeking it, he followed 
along its rocky bed, leaping from one huge block of stone 
to another, and swinging himself across by great over- 
hanging sycamore boughs, drawing, by its many windings, 
nearer and nearer to the spot where it precipitated itself 
over the mountain wall. Ever the noise of the water 
grew louder, until at last, making a slight detour, he came 
upon the very edge of the descent, where he could look 
down and see his home nestled in the cove at the foot of 
the fall, the blue smoke curling upward from its great 
chimney. 

He seated himself upon a jutting rock well screened by 
laurel shrubs on all sides but the one toward the fall. 
There, his knees clasped about with his arms, and his 
chin resting upon them, he sat and watched. 

Behind the leafage and tangle of bare stems and twigs, 
he was so far above and so directly over the spot on which 
his gaze was fixed as to be out of the usual range of sight 
from below, thus enabling him to see plainly what was 



38 The Mountain Girl 

transpiring about the house and sheds, without himself 
being seen. 

Long and patiently he waited. Once a dog barked, — 
his own dog Nig. Some one must be approaching. What 
if the little creature should seek him out and betray him ! 
He quivered with the thought. The day before he had 
driven him down the mountain, beating him off whenever 
he returned. Should the animal persist in tracking him, 
he would kill him. 

He peered more eagerly down, and saw little Hoyle run 
out of the cow shed and twist himself this way and thai 
to see up and down the road. Both the child and the dog 
seemed excited. Yes, there they were, three horsemen 
coming along the highway. Now they were dismounting 
and questioning the boy. Now they disappeared in the 
house. He did not move. Why were they so long within ? 
Hours, it seemed to Frale, but in reality it was only a short 
search they were making there. They were longer looking 
about the sheds and yard. Hoyle accompanied them 
everywhere, his hands in his pockets, standing about, 
shivering with excitement. 

All around they went peering and searching, thrusting 
their arms as far as they could reach into the stacks of 
fodder, looking into troughs and corn sacks, setting the 
fowls to cackling wildly, even hauling out the long corn 
stalks from the wagon which had served to make Thryng's 
ride the night before comfortable. No spot was over- 
looked. 

Frequently they stood and parleyed. Then Frale's 
heart would sink within him. What if they should set 
Nig to track him ! Ah, he would strangle the beast and 
pitch him over the fall. He would spring over after him 
before he would let himself be taken and hanged. Oh, 
he could feel the strangling rope around his neck already ! 
He could not bear it — he could not ! 

Thus cowering, he waited, starting at every sound from 
below as if to run, then sinking back in fear, breathless 
with the pounding of his heart in his breast. Now the 
voices came up to him painfully clear. They were talking 
to little Hoyle angrily. What they were saying he could 
not make out, but he again cautiously lifted his head and 
looked below. Suddenly the child drew back and lifted 



Frale's Confession 39 

his arm as if to ward off a blow, but the blow came. Frale 
saw one of the men turn as he mounted his horse to ride 
away, and cut the boy cruelly across his face and arm 
with his rawhide whip. The little one's shriek of fright 
and pain pierced his big brother to the heart and caused 
him to forget for the moment his own abject fear. 

He made as if he would leap the intervening space to 
punish the brute, but a cry of anger died in his throat 
as he realized his situation. The selfishness of his fear, 
however, was dispelled, and he no longer cringed as be- 
fore, but had the courage again to watch, awake and alert 
to all that passed beneath him. 

Hoyle's cry brought Cassandra out of the house flying. 
She walked up to the man like an angry tigress. Frale 
rose to his knees and strained eagerly forward. 

"If you are such a coward you must hit something 
small and weak, you can strike a woman. Hit me," she 
panted, putting the child behind her. 

Muttering, the man rode sullenly away. "He no busi- 
ness hangin' roun' we-uns, list'nin' to all we say." 

Frale could not make out the words, but his face burned 
red with rage. Had he been in hiding down below, he 
would have wreaked vengeance on the man ; as it was, he 
stood up and boldly watched them ride away in the oppo- 
site direction from which they had come. 

He sank back and waited, and again the hours passed. 
All was still but the rushing water and the gentle soughing 
of the wind in the tops of the towering pines. At last he 
heard a rustling and sniffing here and there. His heart 
stood still, then pounded again in terror. They had — 
they had set Nig to track him. Of course the dog would 
seek for his old friend and comrade, and they — they 
would wait until they heard his bark of joy, and then they 
would seize him. 

He crept close to the rock where the water rushed, not 
a foot away, and clinging to the tough laurel behind him, 
leaned far over. To drop down there would mean instant 
death on the rocks below. It would be terrible — almost 
as horrible as the strangling rope. He would wait until 
they were on him, and then — nearer and nearer came the 
erratic trotting and scratching of the dog among the 
leaves — and then, if only he could grapple with the man 



40 The Mountain Girl 

who had struck his little brother, he would drag him over 
with him. A look of fierce joy leaped in his eyes, which 
were drawn to a narrow blue gleam as he waited. 

Suddenly Nig burst through the undergrowth and sprang 
to his side, but before the dog could give his first bark of 
delight the yelp was crushed in his throat, and he was 
hurled with the mighty force of frenzy, a black, writhing 
streak of animate nature into the rushing water, and there 
swept down, tossed on the rocks, taken up and swirled 
about and thrown again upon the rocks, no longer animate, 
but a part of nature's own, to return to 'his primal ele- 
ments. 

It was done, and Frale looked at his hands helplessly, 
feeling himself a second time a murderer. Yet he was in 
no way more to blame for the first than for this. As yet 
a boy untaught by life, he had not learned what to do with 
the forces within him. They rose up madly and mastered 
him. With a man's power to love and hate, a man's 
instincts, his untamed nature ready to assert itself for 
tenderness or cruelty, without a man's knowledge of the 
necessity for self-control, where some of his kind would 
have been inert and listless, his inheritance had made him 
intense and fierce. Loving and gentle and kind he could 
be, yet when stirred by liquor, or anger, or fear, — most 
terrible. 

His deed had been accomplished with such savage 
deftness that none pursuing could have guessed the trag- 
edy. They might have waited long in the open spaces 
for the dog's return or the sound of his joyous yelp of recog- 
nition, but the sacrifice was needless. The affectionate 
creature had been searching on his own behalf, careless 
of the blows with which his master had driven him from 
his side the day before. 

Trembling, Frale crouched again. The silence was filled 
with pain for him. The moments swept on, even as the 
water rushed on, and the sun began to drop behind the 
hills, leaving the hollows in deepening purple gloom. At 
last, deeming that the search for the time must have been 
given up, he crept cautiously toward the great holly tree, 
not for food, but for hope. There, back in the shadow, 
he sat on a huge log, his head bowed between his hands, 
and listened. 
'4t 



Frale's Confession 41 

Presently the silence was broken by a gentle stirring of 
the fallen leaves, not erratically this time, only a steady 
moving forward of human feet. Again Frale's heart 
bounded and the red sought his cheek, but now with a new 
emotion. He knew of but one footstep which would ad- 
vance toward his ambush in that way. Peering out from 
among the deepest shadows, he watched the spot where 
Cassandra had promised food should be placed for him, 
his eyes no longer a narrow slit of blue, but wide and glad, 
his face transformed from the strain of fear with eager 

joy. 

Soon she emerged, walking wearily. She carried a 
bundle of food tied in a cloth, and an old overcoat of rough 
material trailed over one arm. These she deposited on the 
flat stone, then stood a moment leaning against the smooth 
gray bole of the holly tree, breathing quickly from the 
exertion of the steep climb. 

Her eyes followed the undulating line of the mountain 
above them, rising tree-fringed against the sky, to where the 
highest peak cut across the setting sun, haloed by its long 
rays of gold. No cloud was there, but sweeping down 
the mountain side were the earth mists, glowing with 
iridescent tints, draping the crags and floating over the 
purple hollows, the verdure of the pines showing through 
it all, gilded and glorified. 

Cassandra waiting there might have been the dryad of 
the tree come out to worship in the evening light and grow 
beautiful. So Thryng would have thought, could he have 
seen her with the glow on her face, and in her eyes, and 
lighting up the fires in her hair ; but no such classic dream 
came to the youth lingering among the shadows, ashamed 
to appear before her, bestowing on her a dumb adoration, 
unformed and wordless. 

Because his friend had maudlinly boasted that he was 
the better man in her eyes, and could any day win her for 
himself, he had killed him. Despite all the anguish the 
deed had wrought in his soul, he felt unrepentant now, 
as his eyes rested on her. He would do it again, and yet 
it was that very boast that had first awakened in his heart 
such thought of her. 

For years Cassandra had been as his sister, although no 
tie of blood existed between them, but suddenly the idea of 



42 The Mountain Girl 

possession had sprung to life in him, when another had 
assumed the right as his. Frale had not looked on her 
since that moment of revelation, of which she was so igno- 
rant and so innocent. Now, filled with the shame of his 
deed and his desires, he stood in a torment of longing, 
not daring to move. His knees shook and his arms ached 
at his sides, and his eyes filled with hot tears. 

Quickly the sun dropped below the edge of the moun- 
tain. Cassandra drew a long sigh, and the glow left her 
face. She looked an instant lingeringly at the articles 
she had brought, and turned sadly away. Then he took 
a step toward her with hands outstretched, forgetful of 
his shame, and all, except that she was slipping away from 
him. Arrested by the sound of his feet among the leaves, 
she spoke. 

"Frale, are you there?" Her voice was low as if she 
feared other ears than his might hear. 

He did not move again, and speak he could not, for 
remembrance rushed back stiflingly and overwhelmed 
him. Descrying his white face in the shadow, a pity as 
deep as his shame filled her heart and drew her nearer. 

"Why, Frale, come out here. No one can see you, 
only me.'* 

Still tongue-tied by his emotion, he came into the light 
and stood near her. In dismay she looked up in his 
face. The big boy brother who had taken her to the 
little Carew Crossing station only two months before, 
rough and prankish as the colt he drove, but gentle withal, 
was gone. He who stood at her side was older. Anger 
had left its mark about his mouth, and fear had put a 
strange wildness in his eyes — but — there was something 
else in his reckless, set lips that hurt her. She shrank 
from him, and he took a step closer. Then she placed a 
soothing hand on his arm and perceived he was quivering. 
She thought she understood, and the soft pity moistened 
her eyes and deepened in her heart. 

"Don't be afraid, Frale; they're gone long ago, and 
won't come back — not for a while, I reckon." 

He smiled faintly, never taking his eyes from her face. 
"I hain't afeared o' them. I hev been, but — " He 
shook her hand from his arm and made as if he would push 
her away, then suddenly he leaned toward her and caught 



Frale*s Confession 43 

her in his arms, clasping her so closely that she could 
feel his wildly beating heart. 

"Frale, Frale ! Don't, Frale. You never used to do 
me this way." 

"No, I never done you this-a-way. I wisht I had. I 
be'n a big fool." He kissed her, the first kisses of his 
young manhood, on brow and cheeks and lips, in spite of 
her useless wri things. He continued muttering as he held 
her: *'I sinned fer you. I killed a man. He said he'd 
hev you. He 'lowed he'd go down yander to the school 
whar you war at an' marry you an' fetch you back. I 
war a fool to 'low you to go thar fer him to foUer an' get 
you. I killed him. He's dade." 

The short, interrupted sentences fell on her ears like 
blows. She ceased struggling and, drooping upon his 
bosom, wept, sobbing heart-brokenly. 

"Oh, Frale!" she moaned, "if you had only told me, 
I could have given you my promise and you would have 
known he was lying and spared him and saved your own 
soul." He little knew the strength of his arms as he held 
her. "Frale! I am like to perish, you are hurting me so." 

He loosed her and she sank, a weary, frightened heap, 
at his feet. Then very tenderly he gathered her in his 
arms and carried her to the great flat rock and placed her 
on the old coat she had brought him. 

"You know I wouldn't hurt you fer the hull world, 
Cass." He knelt beside her, and throwing his arms across 
her lap buried his face in her dress, still trembling with his 
unmastered emotion. She thought him sobbing. 

"Can you give me your promise now, Cass ?'* 

"Now ? Now, Frale, your hands are blood-guilty," she 
said, slowly and hopelessly. 

He grew cold and still, waiting in the silence. His 
hands clutched her clothing, but he did not lift his head. 
He had shed blood and had lost her. They might take 
him and hang him. At last he told her so, brokenly, and 
she knew not what to do. 

Gently she placed her hand on his head and drew the 
thick silken hair through her fingers, and the touch, to 
his stricken soul, was a benediction. The pity of her 
cooled the fever in his blood and swept over his spirit 
the breath of healing. For the first time, after the sin 



44 The Mountain Girl 

and the horror of it, after the passion and its anguish, 
came tears. He wept and wiped his tears with her dress. 

Then she told him how her mother had been hurt. 
How Hoyle had driven the half-broken colt and the mule 
all the way to Carew's alone, to bring her home, and how 
he had come nigh being killed. How a gentleman had 
helped her when the colt tried to run and the mule was 
mean, and how she had brought him home with her. 

Then he lifted his head and looked at her, his haggard 
face drawn with suffering, and the calmness of her eyes 
still further soothed and comforted him. They were 
filled with big tears, and he knew the tears were for him, 
for the change which had come upon him, lonely and 
wretched, doomed to hide out on the mountain, his clothes 
torn by the brambles and soiled by the red clay of the 
holes into which he had crawled to hide himself. He rose 
and sat at her side and held her head on his shoulder 
with gentle hand. 

"Pore little sister — pore little Cass! I been awful 
mean an' bad," he murmured. "Hit's a badness I cyan't 
'count fer no ways. When I seed that thar doc t ah man 

— I reckon hit war him I seed lyin' asleep up yander on 
Hangin' Rock — a big tall man, right thin an' white in the 
face — " he paused and swallowed as if loath to continue. 

"Frale ! " she cried, and would have drawn away but that 
he held her. 

"L didn't hurt him, Cass. I mount hev. I lef him lie 
thar an' never woke him nor teched him, but — I felt hit 
here — the badness." He struck his chest with his fist. 
"I lef thar fast an' come here. Ever sence I killed Ferd, 
hit's be'n follerin' me that-a-way. I reckon I'm cursed 
to hell-fire fer hit now, ef they take me er ef they don't 

— hit's all one ; hit's thar whar I'm goin' at the las'." 
"Frale, there is a way — " 

"Yes, they is one way — only one. Ef you'll give me 
your promise, Cass, I'll get away down these mountains, 
an' I'll work ; I'll work hard an' get you a house like one 
I seed to the settlement, Cass, I will. Hit's you, Cass. 
Ever sence Ferd said that word, I be'n plumb out'n my 
hade. Las' night I slep' in Wild Cat Hole, an' I war that 
hungered an' lone, I tried to pray like your maw done 
teached me, an' I couldn' think of nothin' to say, on'y 



Frale's Confession 45 

just, ' Oh, Lord, Cass ! ' That-a-way — on*y your name, 
Cass, Cass, all night long." 

'*I reckon Satan put my name in your heart, Frale; 
'pears to me like it is sin." 

"Naw ! Satan nevah put your name thar. He don't 
meddle with sech as you. He war a-tryin' to get your 
name out'n my heart, that's what he war tryin', fer he 
knowed I'd go bad right quick ef he could. Hit war your 
name kep' my hands off'n that doctah man thar on the 
rock. Give me your promise now, Cass. Hit'll save 
me." 

"Then why didn't it save you from killing Ferd.^" she 
asked. 

"O Gawd !" he moaned, and was silent. 

"Listen, Frale," she said at last. "Can't you see it's sin 
for you and me to sit here like this — like we dared to be 
sweethearts, when j^ou have shed blood for this .^ Take 
your hands off me, and let me go down to mothah." 

Slowly his hold relaxed and his head drooped, but he 
did not move his arms. She pushed them gently from 
her and stood a moment looking down at him. His arms 
dropped upon the stone at his side, listless and empty, 
and again her pitying soul reached out to him and envel- 
oped him. 

"Frale, there is just one way that I can give you my 
promise," she said. He held out his arms to her. "No, 
I can't sit that way; you can see that. The good book 
says, 'Ye must repent and be born again.'" He groaned 
and covered his face with his hands. "Then you would be 
a new man, without sin. I reckon you have suffered a 
heap, and repented a heap — since you did that, Frale ?" 

"I'm 'feared — I'm 'feared ef he war here an' riled me 
agin like he done that time — I'm 'feared I'd do hit agin 
— like he war talkin' 'bouts you, Cass." He rose and 
stood close to her. 

The soft dusk was wrapping them about, and she began 
to fear lest she lose her control over him. She took up 
the bundle of food and placed it in his hand. 

"Here, take this, and the coat, too, Frale. Come down 
and have suppah with mothah and me to-night, and sleep 
in your own bed. They won't search here for one while, 
I reckon, and you'll be safah than hiding in Wild Cat Hole. 



46 The Mountain Girl 

Hoyle heard them say they reckoned you'd lit off down 
the mountain, and were hiding in some near-by town. 
They'll hunt you there first ; come." 

She walked on, and he obediently followed. **When 
we get nigh the house, I'll go first and see if the way is 
clear. You wait back. If I want you to run, I'll call 
twice, quick and sharp, but if I want you to come right in, 
I'll call once, low and long." 

After that no word was spoken. They clambered down 
the steep, winding path, and not far from the house she 
left him. She wondered Nig did not bound out to greet 
her, but supposed he must be curled up near the hearth in 
comfort. Frale also thought of the dog as he sat cowering 
under the laurel shrubs, and set his teeth in anguish and 
sorrow. 

*'Cass'll hate hit when she finds out," he muttered. 

After a moment, waiting and listening, he heard her 
long, low call float out to him. Falling on his hurt spirit, 
it sounded heavenly sweet. 



CHAPTER V 

IN WHICH CASSANDRA GOES TO DAVID WITH HER TROUBLE, 
AND GIVES FRALE HER PROMISE 

After his sleep on Hanging Rock, David, allured by the 
sunset, remained long in his doorway idly smoking his 
pipe, and ruminating, until a normal and delightful hunger 
sent him striding down the winding path toward the 
blazing hearth where he had found such kindly welcome 
the evening before. There, seated tilted back against the 
chimney side, he found a huge youth, innocent of face and 
gentle of mien, who rose as he entered and offered him his 
chair, and smiled and tossed back a falling lock from his 
forehead as he gave him greeting. 

"This hyar is Doctah Thryng, Frale, who done me up 
this-a-way. He 'lows he's goin' to git me well so's I can 
walk again. How air you, suh ? You certainly do look a 
heap better 'n when you come las' evenin'." 

"So I am, indeed. x\ndyou.'^" David's voice rang 
out gladly. He went to the bed and bent above the old 
woman, looking her over carefully. "Are you comfort- 
able ? Do the weights hurt you ? " he asked. 

"I cyan't say as they air right comfortable, but ef 
they'll help me to git 'round agin, I reckon I can bar hit." 

Early that morning, with but the simplest means, David 
had arranged bandages and weights of wood to hold her 
in position. 

She was so slight he hoped the broken hip might right 
itself wdth patience and care, more especially as he learned 
that her age was not so advanced as her appearance had 
led him to suppose. 

Now all suspicion of him seemed to have vanished from 
the household. Hoyle, happy when the fascinating doctor 
noticed him, leaned against his chair, drinking in his words 
eagerly. But when Thryng drew him to his knee and 
discovered the cruel mark across his face and asked how 
it had happened, a curious change crept over them all. 
Every face became as expressionless as a mask ; only the 

47 



48 The Mountain Girl 

boy's eyes sought his brother's, then turned with a fright- 
ened look toward Cassandra as if seeking help. 

Thryng persisted in his examination, and lifted the boy's 
face toward the light. If the big brother had done this 
deed, he should be made to feel shame for it. The welt 
barely escaped the eye, which was swollen and discolored ; 
and altogether the face presented a pitiable appearance. 

As David talked, the hard look which had been exor- 
cised for a time by the gentle influence of that home, and 
more than all by the sight of Cassandra performing the 
gracious services of the household, settled again upon the 
youth's face. His lips were drawn, and his eyes ceased 
following Cassandra, and became fixed and narrowed on 
one spot. 

"You have come near losing that splendid eye of yours, 
do you know that, little chap V Hoyle grinned. "It's a 
shame, you know. I have something up at the cabin would 
help to heal this, but — " he glanced about the room — 
" What are those dried herbs up there V^ 

" Thar is witch hazel yandah in the cupboard. Cass, ye 
mount bile some up fer th' doctah," said the mother. 
"Tell th' doctah hu-come hit happened, son; you 
hain't af eared of him, be ye?" x\ trampling of horse's 
hoofs was heard outside. "Go up garret to your own 
place, Frale. What ye bid'n here f er ? " she added, in a 
hushed voice, but the youth sat doggedly still. 

Cassandra went out and quickly returned. " It's your 
own horse, Frale. Poor beast ! He's limping like he's 
been hurt. He's loose out there. You better look to 
him." 

" Uncle Carew rode him down an' lef him, I reckon." 
Frale rose and went out, and David continued his care of 
the child. 

"How was it } Did your brother hurt you } " 

"Naw. He nevah hurted me all his life. Hit — war 
my own se'f — " 

Cassandra patted the child on his shoulder. " He can't 
beah to tell hu-come he is hurted this w^ay, he is that 
proud. It was a mean, bad, coward man fetched him such 
a blow across the face. He asked little son something, 
and when Hoyle nevah said a word, he just lifted his arm 
and hit him, and then rode off like he had pleased him- 



Cassandra's Promise 49 

self." A flush of anger kindled in her cheeks. "Nevah 
mind, son. Doctah can fix you up all right." 

A sigh of relief trembled through the boy's lips, and 
David asked no more questions. 

"You hain't goin' to tie me up that-a-way, be you.^^" 
He pointed to the bed whereon his mother lay, and they 
all laughed, relieving the tension. 

"Naw," shrilled the mother's voice, "but I reckon 
doctah mount take off your hade an' set hit on straight 
agin." 

"I wisht he could," cried the child, no whit troubled by 
the suggestion. " I'd bar a heap fer to git my hade straight 
like Frale's." Just then his brother entered the room. 
"You reckon doctah kin take off my hade an' set hit 
straight like you carry yours, Frale ? " Again they all 
laughed, and the big youth smiled such a sweet, infantile 
smile, as he looked down on his little brother, that David's 
heart warmed toward him. 

He tousled the boy's hair as he passed and drew him 
along to' the chimney side, away from the doctor. "Hit's 
a right good hade I'm thinkin' ef hit be set too fer round. 
They is a heap in hit, too, more'n they is in mine, I reckon." 

" He's gettin' too big to set that-a-way on your knee, 
Frale. Ye make a baby of him," said the mother. The 
child made an effort to slip down, but Frale's arm closed 
more tightly about him, and he nestled back contentedly. 

So the evening passed, and Thryng retired early to the 
bed in the loom shed. He knew something serious was 
amiss, but of what nature he could not conjecture, unless 
it were that Frale had been making illicit whiskey. What- 
ever it was, he chose to manifest no curiosity. 

In the morning he saw nothing of the young man, and as 
a warm rain was steadily falling, he was glad to get the 
use of the horse, and rode away happily in the rain, mth 
food provided for both himself and the beast sufficient 
for the day slung in a sack behind him. 

"Reckon ye'U come back hyar this evenin'.'*" queried 
the old mother, as he adjusted her bandages before leaving. 

"I'll see how the cabin feels after I have had a fire in 
the chimney all day." 

As he left, he paused by Cassandra's side. She was 
standing by the spout of running water waiting for her 



50 The Mountain Girl 

pail to fill. "If it happens that you need me for — any- 
thing at all, send Hoyle, and I'll come immediately. Will 

you.p" 

She lifted her eyes to his gratefully. "Thank you," 
was all she said, but his look impelled more. "You are 
right kind," she added. 

Hardly satisfied, he departed, but turned in his saddle to 
glance back at her. She was swaying sidewise with the 
weight of the full pail, straining one slender arm as she 
bore it into the house. Who did all the work there, he 
wondered. That great youth ought to relieve her of such 
tasks. Where was he ? Little did he dream that the 
eyes of the great youth were at that moment fixed darkly 
upon him from the small pane of glass set in under the 
cabin roof, which lighted Frale's garret room. 

David stabled the horse in the log shed built by Doctor 
Hoyle for his own beast, — for what is life in the mountains 
without a horse, — then lingered awhile in his doorway 
looking out over the billows of ranges seen dimly through 
the fine veil of the falling rain. Ah, wonderful, perfect 
world it seemed to him, seen through the veil of the rain. 

The fireplace in the cabin was built of rough stone, wide 
and high, and there he made him a brisk fire with fat pine 
and brushwood. He drew in great logs which he heaped 
on the broad stone hearth to dry. He piled them on the 
fire until the flames leaped and roared up the chimney, so 
long unused. He sat before it, delighting in it like a boy 
with a bonfire, and blessed his friend for sending him 
there, smoking a pipe in his honor. Among the doctor's 
few cooking utensils he found a stout iron tea-kettle and 
sallied out again in the wet to rinse it and fill it with fresh 
water from the spring. He had had only coffee since leaving 
Canada ; now he would have a good cup of decent tea, so 
he hung the kettle on the crane and swung it over the fire. 

In his search for his tea, most of his belongings were 
unpacked and tossed about the room in wild disorder, 
and a copy of Marius the Epicurean was brought to 
light. His kettle boiled over into the fire, and immediately 
the small articles on his pine table were shoved back in 
confusion to make room for his tea things, his bottle of 
milk, his corn pone, and his book. 

Being by this time weary, he threw himself on his couch, 



Cassandra's Promise 51 

and contentment began — his hot tea within reach, his 
door wide open to the sweetness of the day, his fire danc- 
ing and crackhng with good cheer, and his book in his 
hand. Ah ! The dehcious idleness and rest ! No dis- 
orders to heal — no bones to mend — no problems to 
solve ; a little sipping of his tea — a little reading of his 
book — a little luxuriating in the warmth and the pleasant 
odor of pine boughs burning — a little dreamy revery, 
watching through the open door the changing lights on 
the hills, and listening to an occasional bird note, liquid 
and sweet. 

The hour drew near to noon and the sky lightened and a 
rift of deep blue stretched across the open space before 
him. Lazily he speculated as to how he was to get his 
provisions brought up to him, and when and how he might 
get his mail, but laughed to think how little he cared for 
a hundred and one things which had filled his life and 
dogged his days ere this. Had he reached Nirvana ? 
Nay, he could still hunger and thirst. 

A footstep was heard without, and a figure appeared in 
his doorway, quietly standing, making no move to enter. 
It was Cassandra, and he was pleased. 

*'My first visitor !" he exclaimed. "Come in, come in. 
I'll make a place for you to sit in a minute." He shoved 
the couch away from before the fire, and removing a 
pair of trousers and a heap of hose from one of his splint- 
bottomed chairs, he threw them in a corner and placed it 
before the hearth. "You walked, didn't you ? And your 
feet are wet, of course. Sit here and dry them." 

She pushed back her sunbonnet and held out to him a 
quaint little basket made of willow withes, which she 
carried, but she took no step forward. Although her lips 
smiled a fleeting wraith of a smile that came and went 
in an instant, he thought her eyes looked troubled as she 
lifted them to his face. 

He took the basket and lifted the cover. " I brought you 
some pa'triges," she said simply. 

There lay three quail, and a large sweet potato, roasted 
in the ashes on their hearth as he had seen the corn pone 
baked the evening before, and a few round white cakes 
which he afterwards learned were beaten biscuit, all warm 
from the fire. 



52 The Mountain Girl 

*'How am I ever to repay you people for your kindness 
to me?" he said. "Come in and dry your feet. Never 
mind the mud ; see how I've tracked it in all the morning. 
Come." 

He led her to the fire, and replenished it, while she sat 
passively looking down on the hearth as if she scarcely 
heeded him. Not knowing how to talk to her, or what to 
do with her, he busied himself trying to bring a semblance 
of order to the cabin, occasionally dropping a remark to 
which she made no response. Then he also relapsed into 
silence, and the minutes dragged — age-long minutes, they 
seemed to him. 

In his efforts at order, he spread his rug over the couch, 
tossed a crimson cushion on it and sundry articles beneath 
it to get them out of his way, then occupied himself with 
his book, while vainly trying to solve the riddle which his 
enigmatical caller presented to his imagination. 

All at once she rose, sought out a few dishes from the 
cupboard, and, taking a neatly smoothed, coarse cloth 
from the basket, spread it over one end of the table and 
arranged thereon his dinner. Quietly David watched her, 
following her example of silence until forced to speak. 
Finally he decided to question her, if only he could think of 
questions which would not trespass on her private affairs, 
when at last she broke the stillness. 

" I can't find any coffee. I ought to have brought some ; 
I'll go fetch some if you'll eat now. Your dinner '11 get 
cold." 

He showed her how he had made tea and was in no need 
of coffee. "We'll throw this out and make fresh," he said 
gayly. "Then you must have a cup with me. Why, you 
have enough to eat here for three people ! " She seemed 
weary and sad, and he determined to probe far enough to 
elicit some confidence, but the more fluent he became, the 
more effectively she withdrew from him. 

"See here," he said at last, "sit by the table with me, 
and I will eat to your heart's content. I'll prepare you a 
cup of tea as I do my own, and then I want you to drink it. 
Come." 

She yielded. His way of saying "Come" seemed like 
a command to be obeyed. 

"Nov/, that is more like." He began his dinner with a 



Cassandra's Promise 53 

relish. ** Won't you share this game with me? It is 
fine, you know." 

He could not think her silent from embarrassment, for 
her poise seemed undisturbed except for the anxious look 
in her eyes. He determined to fathom the cause, and 
since no finesse availed, there remained but one wav, — 
the direct question. 

"What is it .^ " he said kindly. "Tell me the trouble, and 
let me help you." 

She looked full into his eyes then, and her lips quivered. 
Something rose in her throat, and she swallowed helplessly. 
It was so hard for her to speak. The trouble had struck 
deeper than he dreamed. 

"It is a trouble, isn't it ? Can't you tell it to me '^. " 
■ "Yes. I reckon there isn't any trouble worse than ours 
— no, I reckon there is nothing worse." 

"Why, ]\Iiss Cassandra !" 

"Because it's sin, and — and *the wages of sin is death.' " 
Her tone was hopeless, and the sadness of it went to his 
heart. 

"Is it whiskey ?" he asked. 

"Yes — it's whiskey 'stilling and — worse; it's — " 
She turned deathly w^hite. Too sad to weep, she still held 
control of her voice. "It's a heap worse — " 

"Don't try to tell me what it is," he cried. "Only tell 
me how I may help you. It's not your sin, surely, so you 
don't have to bear it." 

"It's not mine, but I do have to bear it. I wish my 
bearing it was all. Tell me, if — if a man has done — 
such a sin, is it right to help him get aw^ay .^ " 

" If it is that big brother of yours, whom I saw last night, 
I can't believe he has done anything so very wicked. You 
say it is not the whiskey .^ " 

"Maybe it was the whiskey first — then — I don't 
know exactly how came it — I reckon he doesn't himself. 
I — he's not my brothah — not rightly, but he has been 
the same as such. They telegraphed me to come home 
quick. Bishop Towahs told me a little — all he knew, — 
but he didn't know what all was it, only some wrong to 
call the officahs and set them aftah Frale — poor Frale. 
He — he told me himself — last evening." She paused 
again, and the pallor slowly left her face and the red surged 



54 The Mountain Girl 

into her cheeks and mounted to the waves of her heavy 
hair. 

"It is Frale, then, who is in trouble ! And you wish me 
to help him get away ? " She looked down and was silent. 
"But I am a stranger, and know nothing about the coun- 
try." 

He pushed his chair away from the table and leaned 
back, regarding her intently. 

"Oh, I am afraid for him." She put her hand to her 
throat and turned away her face from his searching eyes, 
in shame. 

"I prefer not to know what he has done. Just explain 
to me your plan, and how I can help. You know better 
than I." 

"I can't understand how comes it I can tell you; you 
are a strangah to all of us — and yet it seems like it is 
right. If I could get some clothes nobody has evah seen 
Frale weah — if — I could make him look different from 
a mountain boy, maybe he could get to some town down 
the mountain, and find work ; but now they would meet up 
with him before he was halfway there." 

Thryng rose and began pacing the room. "Is there any 
hurry .?" he demanded, stopping suddenly before her. 

"Yes." 

"Then why have you waited all this time to tell me ? " 

She lifted her eyes to his in silence, and he knew well 
that she had not spoken because she could not, and that 
had he not ventured with his direct questions, she would 
have left him, carrying her burden with her, as hopelessly 
silent as when she came. 

He sat beside her again and gently urged her to tell him 
without further delay all she had in her mind. "You feel 
quite sure that if he could get down the mountain side 
without being seen, he would be safe ; where do you mean to 
send him ? You don't think he would try to return ? " 

" Why — no, I reckon not — if — I — " Her face flamed, 
and she drew on her bonnet, hiding the crimson flush in 
its deep shadow. She knew that without the promise he 
had asked, the boy would as surely return as that the sun 
would continue to rise and set. 

"He must stay," she spoke desperately and hurriedly. 
"If he can just make out to stay long enough to learn a 



Cassandra^s Promise 55 

little — how to live, and will keep away from bad men — 
if I — he only knows enough to make mean corn liquor 
now — but he nevah was bad. He has always been differ- 
ent — and he is awful smart. I can't think how came he 
to change so." 

Taking the empty basket with her, she walked toward the 
door, and David followed her. "Thank you for that good 
dinner," he said. 

"xA-unt Sally fetched the pa'triges. Her old man got 
them for mothah, and she said you sure ought to have half. 
Sally said the sheriff had gone back up the mountain, and 
I'm afraid he'll come to our place again this evening. Likely 
they're breaking up Frale's 'still' now." 

"Well, that will be a good deed, won't it ? " 

The huge bonnet had hid her face from him, but now she 
lifted her eyes frankly to his, with a flash of radiance 
through her tears. "I reckon," was all she said. 

"Are they likely to come up here, do you think, those 



men 



P" 



Not hardly. They would have to search on foot here. 
It's out of their way; only no place on the mountain is 
safe for Frale now." 

"Send him to me quickly, then. I have cast my lot 
with you mountain people for some time to come, and your 
cause shall be mine." 

She paused at the door with grateful words on her lips 
unuttered. 

"Don't stop for thanks. Miss Cassandra; they are 
wasted between us. You have opened your doors to me, 
a stranger, and that is enough. Hurry, don't grieve — 
and see here : I may not be able to do anything, but I'll 
try; and if I can't get down to-night, won't you come 
again in the morning and tell me all about it .? " 

Instantly he thought better of his request, yet who was 
here to criticise ? He laughed as he thought how firmly 
the world and its conventions held him. Sweet, simple- 
hearted child that she was, why, indeed, should she not 
come .^ Still he called after her. "If you are too busy, 
send Hoyle. I may be down to see your mother, anyway.'* 

She paused an instant in her hurried walk. "I'll be right 
glad to come, if I can help you any way." 

He stood watching her until she passed below his view. 



56 The Mountain Girl 

as her long easy steps took her rapidly on, although she 
seemed to move slowly. Then he went back to his fire, 
and her words repeated themselves insistently in his mind 

— "I'll be right glad to come, if I can help you anyway." 
Aunt Sally was seated in the chimney-corner smoking, 

when Cassandra returned. "Where is he.^^" she cried. 

"He couldn't set a minute, he was that restless. He 
'lowed he'd go up to the rock whar you found him las' 
evenm . 

Without a word, Cassandra turned and fled up the steep 
toward the head of the fall. Every moment, she knew, 
was precious. Frale met her halfway down and took her 
hand, leading her as he had been used to do when she was 
his "little sister," and listened to her plans docilely enough. 

"I mean you to go down to Farington, to Bishop 
Towahs'. He will give you work." She had not men- 
tioned Thryng. 

Frale laughed. 

"Don't, Frale. How can you laugh .f^" 

"I ra'ly hain't laughin', Cass. Seems like you fo'get 
how can I get down the mountain; but I reckon I'll try 

— if you say so." 

Then she explained how the doctor had sent for him 
to come up there quickly, and how he would help him. 
"You must go now, Frale, you hear .^^ Now!" 

Again he laughed, bitterly this time. " Yas — I reckon 
he'll be right glad to help me get away from you. I'll go 
myse'f in my own way." 

Under the holly tree they had paused, and suddenly she 
feared lest the boy at her side return to his mood of the 
evening before. She seized his hand again and hurried 
him farther up the steep. 

"Come, come!" she cried. "I'll go with you, Frale." 

"Naw, you won't go with me neithah," he said stub- 
bornly, drawing back. 

"Frale !" she pleaded. "Hear to me." 

"I'm a-hstenin'." 

"Frale, I'm afraid. They may be on their way now. 
For all we know they may be right nigh." 

"I've done got used to fearin' now. Hit don't hurt 
none. On'y one thing hurts now." 

"I've been up to see Doctor Thryng, and he's promised 



Cassandra's Promise 57 

he'll fix you up some way so that if anybody does see you, 
they — they'll think you belong somewhere else, and 
nevah guess who you be. Frale, go." 

He held her, with his arm about her waist, half carrying 
her with him, instead of allowing her to move her own free 
gait, and she tried vainly with her fingers to pull his hands 
away; but his muscles were like iron under her touch. 
He felt her helplessness and liked it. Her voice shook as 
she pleaded with him. 

*'0h, Frale ! Hear to me !" she wailed. 

"I'll hear to you, ef you'll hear to me. Seems like I've 
lost my fear now. I hain't carin* no more. Ef I should 
see the sheriff this minute, an' he war a-puttin' his rope 
round my neck right now, I wouldn't care 'thout one thing 

— jes' one thing. I'd walk straight down to hell fer hit, 

— I reckon I hev done that, — but I'd walk till I drapped, 
an* work till I died for hit." He stood still a moment, 
and again she essayed to move his hands, but he only held 
her closer. 

"Oh, hurry, Frale ! I'm afraid. Oh, Frale, don't !" 

"Be ye 'feared fer me, Cass ?" 

"You know that, Frale. Leave go, and hear to me." 

"Be ye 'feared 'nough to give me your promise, Cass ?*' 

"Take your hand off me, Frale." 

"We'll go back. I 'low they mount es well take me first 
as last. I hain't no heart lef in me. I don't care fer that 
thar doctah man he'pin' me, nohow," he choked. 

"Leave me go, and I'll give you promise for promise, 
Frale. I can't make out is it sin or not ; but if God can 
forgive and love — when you turn and seek Him — the 
Bible do say so, Frale, but — but seem like you don't 
repent your deed whilst you look at me like that way." 
She paused, trembling. "If you could be sorry like you 
ought to be, Frale, and turn your heart — I could die for 
that." 

He still held her, but lifted one shaking hand above his 
head. 

"Before God, I promise — " 

"What, Frale? Say what you promise." 

He still held his hand high. "All you ask of me, Cass. 
Tell me word by word, an' I'll promise fair." 

"You will repent, Frale ?" 



58 The Mountain Girl 

"Yas." 

"You will not drink?" 

"I will not drink." 

*'You will heed when your own heart tells you the 
right way ?" 

'*I will heed when my heart tells me the way : hit will 
be the way to you, Cass." 

"Oh, don't say it that way, Frale. Now say, *So help 
me God,' and don't think of me whilst you say it." 

"Put your hand on mine, Cass. Lift hit up an' say with 
me that word." She placed her palm on his uplifted palm. 
"So help me, God," they said together. Then, with 
streaming tears, she put her arms about his neck and 
gently drew his face down to her own. 

"I'll go back now, Frale, and you do all I've said. Go 
quick. I'll write Bishop Towahs, and he'll watch out for 
you, and find you work. Let Doctah Thryng help you. 
He sure is a good man. Oh, if you only could write !" 

"I'll larn." 

"You'll have a heap more to learn than you guess. I've 
been there, and I know. Don't give up, Frale, and — and 
stay—" 

"I hain't going to give up with your promise here, Cass ; 
kiss me." 

She did so, and he slowly released her, looking back as 
he walked away. 

"Oh, hurry, Frale ! Don't look back. It's a bad 
omen." She turned, and without one backward glance 
descended the mountain. 



CHAPTER VI 

IN WHICH DAVID AIDS FRALE TO MAKE HIS ESCAPE 

Elated by his talk with Cassandra, Frale walked 
eagerly forward, but as he neared Thryng's cabin he 
moved more slowly. Why should he let that doctor help 
him ? He could reach Farington some way — travelling 
by night and hiding in the daytime. But David was 
watching for him and strolled down to meet him. 

"Good morning. Your sister says there is no time to 
lose. Come in here, and we'll see if we can find a way out 
of this trouble." 

Having learned not to expect any response to remarks 
not absolutely demanding one, and not wishing the silence 
to dominate, David talked on, as he led Frale into the 
cabin and carefully closed the door behind them. 

Thryng's intuition was subtle and his nature intense 
and strong. He had been used to dealing with men, and 
knew that when he wished to, he usually gained his point. 
Feeling the antagonism in Frale's heart toward himself, 
he determined to overcome it. Be it pride, jealousy, or 
what not, it must give way. 

He had learned only that morning that circumlocution 
or pretence of any sort would only drive the youth further 
into his fortress of silence, and close his nature, a sealed 
well of turbid feeling, against him ; therefore he chose a 
manner pleasantly frank, taking much for granted, and 
giving the boy no chance to refuse his help, by assuming 
it to have been already accepted. 

"We are about the same size, I think .^^ Yes. Here 
are some things I laid out for you. You must look as 
much like me as possible, and as unlike yourself, you know. 
Sit here and we'll see what can be done for your head.'* 

"You're right fair, an' I'm dark." 

"Oh, that makes very little difference. It's the general 
appearance we must get at. Suppose I try to trim your 
hair a little so that lock on your forehead won't give you 
away.'* 

59 



60 The Mountain Girl 

"I reckon I can do it. Hit's makin' you a heap o' 
trouble." 

David was pleased to note the boy's mood softening, 
and helped him on. 

"I'm no hand as a barber, but I'll try it a little; it's 
easier for me to get at than for you." He quickly and 
deftly cut away the falling curl, and even shaved the 
corners of the forehead a bit, and clipped the eyebrows to 
give them a different angle. "All this will grow again, 
you know. You only want it to last until the storm blows 
over." 

The youth surveyed himself in the mirror and smiled, 
but grimly. *'I do look a heap different." 

"That's right; we want you to look like quite another 
man. And now for your chin. You can use a razor; 
here is warm water and soap. This suit of clothes is such 
as we tramp about in at home, different from anything 
you see up here, you know. I'll take my pipe and book 
and sit there on the rock and keep an eye out, lest any one 
climb up here to look around, and you can have the cabin 
all to yourself. You see what to do ; make yourself look 
as if you came from my part of the world." Thryng 
glanced at his watch. "Work fast, but take time enough 
to do it well. Say half an hour, — will that do .^" 
[ "Yas, I reckon." 

Then David left him, and the moments passed until an 
hour had slipped away, but still the youth did not appear, 
and he was on the point of calling out to him, when he 
saw the twisted form of little Hoyle scrambling up through 
the underbrush. 

"They're comin'," he panted, with wild and frightened 
eyes fixed on David's face. "I see 'em up the road, an' 
I heered 'em say they was goin' to hunt 'round the house 
good, an' then s'arch the cabin ovah Hanging Rock." 
The poor child burst into tears. "Do you 'low they'll 
shoot Frale, suh?" 

"They'd not reached the house when you saw them.'*" 

"They'll be thar by now, suh," sobbed the boy. 

"Then run and hide yourself. Crawl under the rock 
— into the smallest hole you can. They mustn't see that 
you have been here, and don't be frightened, little man. 
We'll look after Frale." 



David aids Frale to Escape 61 

The child disappeared like a squirrel in a hole, and 
Thryng went to the cabin door and knocked imperatively. 
It was opened instantly, and Frale stood transformed, 
his old, soiled garments lying in a heap at his side as if he 
had crept out of his chrysalis. A full half hour he had 
been lingering, abashed at himself and dreading to appear. 
The slight growth of adolescence was gone from lip and 
chin, and Thryng was amazed and satisfied. 

"Good," he cried. "You've done well." 

The youth smiled shamefacedly, yet held his head high. 
With the heavy golf stockings, knee breeches, and belted 
jacket, even to himself he seemed another man, and an 
older man he looked by five years. 

"Now keep your nerve, and square your shoulders and 
face the world with a straight look in the eye. You've 
thrown off the old man with these." David touched the 
heap of clothing on the floor with his foot. "Hoyle is 
here. He says the men are on their way here and have 
stopped at the house." 

Instead of turning pale as Thryng had expected, a dark 
flush came into Frale's face, and his hand clinched. It was 
the ferocity of fear, and not the deadliness of it, which 
seized him with a sort of terrible anger, that David felt 
through his silence. 

"Don't lose control of yourself, boy," he said, placing 
his hand gently on his shoulder and making his touch felt 
by the intimate closing of his slender fingers upon the 
firmly rounded, lean muscles beneath them. 

"Follow my directions, and be quick. Put your own 
clothes in this bag." He hastily tossed a few things out of 
his pigskin valise. " Cram them in ; that's right. Don't 
leave a trace of yourself here for them to find. Pull this 
cap over your eyes, and walk straight down that path, 
and pass them by as if they were nothing to you. If 
they speak to you, of course nod to them and pass on. 
But if they ask you a question, say politely, * Beg pardon ? ' 
just like that, as though you did not understand — and 
— wait. Don't hurry away from them as if you were 
afraid of them. They won't recognize you unless you 
give yourself away by your manner. See ? Now say it 
oyer after me. Good ! Take these cigars." He placed 
his own case in the boy's vest pocket. 



62 The Mountain Girl 

"Better leave 'em free, suh. I don't like to take all 
your things this-a-way." He handed back the case, and 
put them loose in his pocket. 

"Very well. If you smoke, just light this and walk on, 
and if they ask you anything about yourself, if you have 
seen a chap of the sort, understand, offer them each a 
cigar, and tell them no. Don't say *I reckon not,' for 
that will give you away, and don't lift your cap, or they 
will see how roughly your hair is cut. Touch it as if you 
were going to lift it, only — so. I would take care not to 
arrive at the house while they are there ; it will be easier for 
you to meet them on the path. It will be the sooner over." 

Thryng held out his hand, and Frale took it awk- 
wardly, then turned away, swallowing the thanks he did 
not know how to utter. For the time being, David had 
conquered. ' 

The lad took a few steps and then turned back. "I'd 
like to thank you, suh, an' I'd like to pay fer these here — 
I 'low to get work an' send the money fer 'em." 

"Don't be troubled about that; we'll see later. Only 
remember one thing. I don't know what you've done, 
nor why you must run away like this — I haven't asked. 
I may be breaking the laws of the land as much as you in 
helping you off. I am doing it because, until I know of 
some downright evil in you, I'm bound to help you, and 
the best way to repay me will be for you to — you know — 
do right." 

"Are you doin' this fer her.?" He looked off at the 
hills as he spoke, and not at the doctor. 

"Yes, for her and for you. Don't linger now, and don't 
forget my directions." 

The youth turned on the doctor a quick look. Thryng 
could not determine, as he thought it over afterward, if 
there was in it a trace of malevolence. It was like a flash 
of steel between them, even as they smiled and again bade 
each other good-by. 

For a time all was silent around Hanging Rock. Thryng 
sat reading and pondering, expecting each moment to 
hear voices from the direction Frale had taken. He 
could not help smiling as he thought over his attempt to 
make this mountain boy into the typical English tourist, 
and how unique an imitation was the result. 



David aids Frale to Escape 63 

He called out to comfort Hoyle's fearful little heart : 
"Your brother's all safe now. Come out here until we 
hear men's voices." 

"I better stay whar I be, I reckon. They won't talk 
none when they get nigh hyar." 

'*Are you comfortable down there .f^" 

"Yas, suh." 

Hoyle was right. The two men detailed for this climb 
walked in silence, to give no warning of their approach, 
until they appeared in the rear of the cabin, and entered 
the shed where Frale's horse was stabled. Sure were 
they then that its owner was trapped at last. 

They were greatly surprised at finding the premises 
occupied. David continued his reading, unconcerned 
until addressed. 

"Good evenin*, suh." 

He greeted them genially and invited them into his 
cabin, determined to treat them with as royal hospitality 
as was in his power. To offer them tea was hardly the 
thing, he reasoned, so he stirred up the fire, while descant- 
ing on the beauty of the location and the health-giving 
quality of the air, and when his kettle was boiling, he 
brought out from his limited stores whiskey, lemons, and 
sugar, and proceeded to brew them so fine a quality of 
English toddy as to warm the cockles of their hearts. 

Questioning them on his own account, he learned how 
best to get his supplies brought up the mountains, and 
many things about the region interesting to him. At 
last one of them ventured a remark about the horse and 
how he came by him, at which he explained very frankly 
that the widow down below had allowed him the use of the 
animal for his keep until her son returned. 

They " 'lowed he wa'n't comin' back to these parts very 
soon," and David expressed satisfaction. His evident 
ignorance of mountain affairs convinced them that noth- 
ing was to be gained from him, and they asked no direct 
questions, and finally took their departure, with a high 
opinion of their host, and quite content. 

Then David called his little accomplice from his hiding- 
place, took him into his cabin, and taught him to drink 
tea with milk and sugar in it, gave him crisp biscuits from 
his small remainder in store, and, still further to comfort 



64 The Mountain Girl 

his heart, searched out a card on which was a picture of 
an ocean Hner on an open sea, with flags flying, great rolls 
of vapor and smoke trailing across the sky, with white- 
capped waves beneath and white clouds above. The 
boy's eyes shone with delight. He twisted himself about 
to look up in Thryng's face as he questioned him concern- 
ing it, and almost forgot Frale in his happiness, as he 
trudged home hugging the precious card to his bosom. 

Contentedly Thryng proceeded to set his abode in order 
after the disarray of the morning, undisturbed by any 
question as to the equity of his deed. His mind was in a 
state of rebellion against the usual workings of the criminal 
courts, and, biassed by his observation of the youth, he 
felt that his act might lead as surely toward absolute 
justice, perhaps more surely, than the opposite course 
would have done. 

Erelong he found a few tools carefully packed away, as 
was the habit of his old friend, and the labor of preparing 
his canvas room began. But first a ladder hanging under 
the eaves of the cabin must be repaired, and long before 
the slant rays of the setting sun fell across his hilltop, he 
found himself, too weary to descend to the Fall Place, even 
with the aid of his horse. With a measure of discourage- 
ment at his undeniable weakness, he led the animal to 
water where a spring bubbled sweet and clear in an em- 
bowered hollow quite near his cabin, then stretched him- 
self on the couch before the fire, with no other light than 
its cheerful blaze, too exhausted for his book and disin- 
clined even to prepare his supper. 

After a time, David's weariness gave place to a pleasant 
drowsiness, and he rose, arranged his bed, and replenished the 
fire, drank a little hot milk, and dropped into a wholesome 
slumber as dreamless and sweet as that of a tired child. 

Such a sense of peace and retirement closed around him 
there alone on his mountain, that he slept with his cabin 
door open to the sweet air, crisp and cold, lulled by the 
murmuring of the swaying pine tops without, and the crack- 
ling and crumbling of burning logs within. Rolled in his 
warm Scotch rug, he did not feel the chill that came as 
his fire burned lower, but slept until daybreak, when the 
clear note of a Carolina wren, thrice repeated close to his 
open door, sounded his reveille. 



David aids Frale to Escape 65 

Deeply inhaling the cold air, he lay and mused over the 
events of the previous day. How quicklj^ and naturally 
he had been drawn into the interests of his neighbors 
below him, and had absorbed the peculiar atmosphere of 
their isolation, making a place for himself, shutting out 
almost as if they had never existed the harassments and 
questionings of his previous life. Was it a buoyancy he 
had received from his mountain height and the morning 
air ? Whatever the cause, he seemed to have settled with 
them all, and arrived at last where his spirit needed but 
to rest open and receptive before its Creator to be swept 
clear of the dross of the world's estimates of values, and 
exalted with aspiration. 

Every long breath he drew seemed to make his mental 
vision clearer. God and his own soul — was that all ? 
Not quite. God and the souls of men and of women — 
of all who came within his environment — a world made 
beautiful, made sweet and health-giving for these — and 
with them to know God, to feel Him near. So Christ 
came to be close to humanity. 

A mist of scepticism that had hung over him and clouded 
the later years of his young manhood suddenly rolled away, 
dispelled by the splendor of this triumphant thought, 
even as the rays of the rising sun came at the same 
moment to dispel the earth mists and flood the hills with 
light. Light; that was it! "In Him is no darkness at 
all." 

Joyously he set himself to the preparation for the day. 
The true meaning of life was revealed to him. The dis- 
couragement of the evening before was gone. Yet now 
should he sit down in ecstatic dreaming ^ It must be 
joy in hfe — movement — in whatever was to be done, 
whether in satisfying a wholesome hunger, in creating 
warmth for his body, or in conquering the seeds of decay 
and disease therein, and keeping it strong and full of re- 
active power for his soul's sake. 

It was a revelation to him of the eternal God, wonder- 
working and all-pervading. Now no longer with a haunt- 
ing sense of fear would he search and learn, but with a 
glad perception of the beautiful orderliness of the uni- 
verse, so planned and arranged for the souls of men when 
only they should learn how to use their own lives, and 



66 The Mountain Girl 

attune themselves to give forth music to the touch of 
the God of Love. 

A cold bath, the pure air, and his abstemiousness of the 
previous evening gave him a compelHng hunger, and it 
was with satisfaction he discovered so large a portion of 
his dinner of yesterday remaining to be warmed for his 
morning meal. What he should do later, when dinner-time 
arrived, he knew not, and he laughed to think how he was 
living from hour to hour, content as the small wren fluting 
beside his door his care-free note. Ah, yes ! "God's in 
His heaven, all's right with the world." 

The wren's note reminded him of a slender box which 
always accompanied his wanderings, and which had come 
to light rolled in the jacket which he had given Frale as 
part of his disguise. He opened it and took therefrom 
the joints of a silver flute. How long it had lain untouched ! 

He fitted the parts and strolled out to the rock, and there, 
as he gazed at the shifting, subtle beauty spread all before 
him and around him, he lifted the wandlike instrument 
to his lips and began to play. At first he only imitated 
the wren, a few short notes joyously uttered ; then, as 
the springs of his own happiness welled up within him, he 
poured forth a tumultuous flood of trills — a dancing 
staccato of mounting notes, shifting and falling, rising, 
floating away, and then returning in silvery echoes, 
bringing their own gladness with them. 

The psean of praise ended, the work of the day began, 
and he set himself with all the nervous energy of his nature 
to the finishing of his canvas room. Again, ere the com- 
pletion of the task, he found he had been expending his 
strength too lavishly, but this time he accepted his weari- 
ness more philosophically, glad if only he might labor and 
rest as the need came. 

Nearly the whole of the glorious day was still left him. 
In moving his couch nearer the door, he found his efforts 
impeded by some heavy object underneath it, and dis- 
covered, to his surprise and almost dismay, the identical 
pigskin valise which Frale had taken away with him the 
day before. How came it there ? No one, he was certain, 
had been near his cabin since Hoyle had trotted home 
yesterday, hugging his picture to his breast. 

David drew it out into the light and opened it. There 



David aids Frale to Escape 67 

on the top lay the cigars he had placed in the youth's 
pocket, and there also every article of wearing apparel he 
had seen disappear down the laurel-grown path on Frale's 
lithe body twelve hours or more ago. He cast the articles 
out upon the floor and turned them over wonderingly, 
then shoved them aside and lay down for his quiet siesta. 
He would learn from Cassandra the meaning of this. He 
hoped the young man had got off safely, yet the fact of 
finding his kindly efforts thus thrust back upon him dis- 
turbed him. Why had it been done ? As he pondered 
thereon, he saw again the steel-blue flash in the young 
man's eyes as he turned away, and resolved to ask no 
questions, even of Cassandra. 



CHAPTER VII 

IN WHICH FRALE GOES DOWN TO FABINGTON IN HIS OWN 

WAY 

Frale felt himself exalted by the oath he had sworn 
to Cassandra, as if those words had lifted the burden from 
^ his heart, and taken away the stain. As he walked away 
in his disguise, it seemed to him that he had acted under 
an irresistible spell cast upon him by this Englishman, 
who was to bide so near Cassandra — to be seen by her 
every day — to be admired by her, while he, who had the 
first right, must hide himself away from her, shielding 
himself in that man's clothes. Fine as they seemed to 
him, they only abashed him and filled him with a sense 
of obligation to a man he dreaded. 

Like a child, realizing his danger only when it was close 
upon him, his old recklessness returned, and he moved 
down the path with his head held high, looking neither to 
the right nor to the left, planning how he might be rid of 
these clothes and evade his pursuers unaided. The men, 
climbing toward him as he descended, hearing his foot- 
steps above them, parted and stood watching, only half 
screened by the thick-leaved shrubs, not ten feet from 
him on either side ; but so elated was he, and eager in 
his plans, that he passed them by, unseeing, and thus 
Thryng's efforts saved him in spite of himself; for so 
amazed were they at the presence of such a traveller in 
such a place that they allowed him to pass unchallenged 
until he was too far below them to make speech possible. 
Later, when they found David seated on his rock, they 
assumed the young man to be a friend, and thought no 
further of it. 

Frale soon left the path and followed the stream to 
the head of the fall, where he lingered, tormented by his 
own thoughts and filled with conflicting emotions, in sight 
of his home. 

To go down to the settlement and see the world had its 
allurements, but to go in this way, never to return, never 

68 



Frale goes to Farington 69 

to feel again the excitement of his mountain life, evading 
the law and conquering its harassments, was bitter. It 
had been his joy and delight in life to feel himself master- 
fully triumphant over those set to take him, too cunning 
to be found, too daring and strong to be overcome, to 
take desperate chances and win out; all these he con- 
sidered his right and part of the game of life. But to 
slink away like a hunted fox followed by the dogs of the 
law because, in a blind frenzy, he had slain his own friend ! 
What if he had promised to repent; there was the law 
after him still ! 

If only his fate were a tangible thing, to be grappled with! 
To meet a foe and fight hand to hand to the death was not 
so hard as to yield himself to the inevitable. Sullenly he 
sat with his head in his hands, and life seemed to stretch 
before him, leading to a black chasm. But one ray of 
light was there to follow — "Cass, Cass." If only he 
would accept the help offered him and go to the station, 
take his seat in the train, and find himself in Farington, 
while still his pursuers were scouring the mountains for 
him, he might — he might win out. Moodily and stub- 
bornly he resisted the thought. 

At last, screened by the darkness, he turned out his 
soiled and torn garments, and divesting himself of every 
article Thryng had given him, he placed them carefully 
in the Valise. Then, relieved of one humiliation, he set 
himself again on the path toward Hanging Rock cabin. 

As he passed the great holly tree where Cassandra had 
sat beside him, he placed his hand on the stone and paused. 
His heart leaned toward her. He wanted her. Should 
he go down to her now and refuse to leave her ? But no. 
He had promised. Something warm splashed down upon 
his hand as he bent over the rock. He sprang up, ashamed 
to weep, and, seizing the doctor's valise, plunged on 
through the shadows up the steep ascent. 

He had no definite idea of how he would explain his act, 
for he did not comprehend his own motives. It was only 
a wordless repugnance that possessed him, vague and 
sullen, against this man's offered friendship ; and his relief 
was great when he found David asleep before his open 
door. 

Stealthily he entered and placed his burden beneath 



70 The Mountain Girl 

the couch, gazed a moment at the sleeping face whereon 
the firelight still played, and softly crept away. Cas- 
sandra should know that she had no need to thank the 
Englishman for his freedom. 

Then came the weary tramp down the mountain, 
skulking and hiding by day, and struggling on again by 
night — taking by-paths and unused trails — finding his 
uncertain way by moonlight and starlight — barked at 
by dogs, and followed by hounds baying loudly whenever 
he came near a human habitation — wading icy streams 
and plunging through gorges to avoid cabins or settle- 
ments — keeping life in him by gnawing raw turnips which 
had been left in the fields ungathered, until at last, pallid, 
weary, dirty, and utterly forlorn, he found himself, in 
the half-light of the dawn of the fourth day, near Faring- 
ton. Shivering with cold, he stole along the village street 
and hid himself in the bishop's grounds until he should 
see some one astir in the house. 

The bishop had sat late the night before, half expecting 
him, for he had received Cassandra's letter, also one from 
Thryng. Neither letter threw light on Frale's deed, 
although Cassandra's gave him to understand that some- 
thing more serious than illicit distilling had necessitated 
his flight. David's was a joyous letter, craving his com- 
panionship whenever his affairs might bring him near, 
but expressing the greatest contentment. 

When Black Carrie went out to unlock the chicken 
house door and fetch wood for her morning fire, she 
screamed with fright as the young man in his wretched 
plight stepped before her. 

"G'long, yo — pore white trash!" she cried. 

"I'm no poor white trash," he murmured. "Be Bishop 
Towah in the house ?*' 

"Co'se he in de haouse. Whar yo s'poses he be dis 
time de mawnin' ?" She made with all haste toward her 
kitchen, bearing her armful of wood, muttering as she went. 

"I reckon I'll set hyar ontwell he kin see me," he said, 
dropping to the doorstep in sheer exhaustion. And there 
he was allowed to sit while she prepared breakfast in her 
own leisurely way, having no intention of disturbing her 
"white folkses fer no sech trash." 

The odor of coffee and hot cakes was maddening to the 




JOot.scwX- 



Skulking a)id Jiidiiig by day, a)id struggling on again 
by night. Page 70. 



Frale goes to Farington 71 

star\dng boy, as he watched her through the open door, 
yet he passively sat, withdrawn into himself, seeking in 
no way either to secure a portion of the food or to make 
himself knowTi. After a time, he heard faintly voices 
beyond the kitchen, and knew the family must be there 
at breakfast, but still he sat, saying nothing. 

At last the door of the inner room was burst open, and 
a child ran out, demanding scraps for her puppy. 

"I may ! I may, too, feed him in the dining room. 
Mamma says I may, after we're through." 

"Go off, honey chile, mussin' de flo' like dat-a-way fer 
me to clean up agin. Naw, honey. Go out on de stoop 
wif yer fool houn' dog." And the tiny, fair girl with her 
plate of scraps and her small black dog leaping and danc- 
ing at her heels, tumbled themselves out where Frale 
sat. 

Scattering her crusts as she ran, she darted back, 
calling: "Papa, papa! A man's come. He's here." 
The small dog further emphasized the fact by barking 
fiercely at the intruder, albeit from a safe distance. 

"Yas," said Carrie, as the bishop came out, led by his 
little daughter, "he b'en hyar sence long fo' sun-up." 

"Why didn't you call me.^" he said sternly. 

"Sho — how I know anybody wan' see yo, hangin' 
'roun' de back do' ^ He ain' say nuthin', jes' set dar." 
She continued muttering her crusty dislike of tramps, 
as the bishop led his caller through her kitchen and sent 
his little daughter to look after her puppy. 

He took Frale into his private study, and presently 
returned and himself carried him food, placing it before 
him on a small table where many a hungry caller had 
been fed before. Then he occupied himself at his desk 
while he quietly observed the boy. He saw that the youth 
was too worn and weak to be dealt with rationally at first, 
and he felt it difficult to affix the thought of a desperate 
crime upon one so gentle of mien and innocent of face; 
but he knew his people well, and what masterful passions 
often slept beneath a mild and harmless exterior. 

Nor was it the first time he had been called upon to 
adjust a conflict between his own conscience and the law. 
Often in his office of priest he had been the recipient of 
confidences which no human pressure of law could ever 



72 The Mountain Girl 

wrest from him. So now he proceeded to draw from 
Frale his full and free confession. 

Very carefully and lovingly he trespassed in the secret 
chambers of this troubled soul, until at last the boy laid 
bare his heart. 

He told of the cause of his anger and his drunken quar- 
rel, of his evasion of his pursuers and his vow with Cas- 
sandra before God, of his rejection of Doctor Thryng's 
help and his flight by night, of his suffering and hunger. 
All was told without fervor, — a simple passive narra- 
tion of events. No one could believe, while listening to 
him, that storms of passion and hatred and fear had torn 
him, or the overwhelming longing he had suffered at the 
thought of Cassandra. 

But when the bishop touched on the subject of repent- 
ance, the hidden force was revealed. It was as if the 
tormenting spirit within him had cried out loudly, instead 
of the low, monotonous tone in which he said : — 

"Yas, I kin repent now he's dade, but ef he war 
livin' an' riled me agin that-a-way like he done — I 
reckon — I reckon God don't want no repentin' Hke I 
repents." 

It was steel against flint, the spark in the narrow blue 
line of his eyes as he said the words, and the bishop under- 
stood. 

But what to do with this man of the mountains — this 
force of nature in the wild; how guard him from a far 
more pernicious element in the civilized town life than any 
he would find in his rugged solitudes ? 

And Cassandra ! The bishop bowed his head and sat 
with the tips of his fingers pressed together. The thought 
of Cassandra weighed heavily upon him. She had given 
her promise, with the devotion of her kind, to save ; had 
truly offered herself a living sacrifice. All hopes for her 
growth into the gracious womanhood, her inheritance im- 
pelled her toward, — her sweet ambitions for study, gone to 
the winds — scattered like the fragrant wild rose petals 
on her own hillside — doomed by that promise to live as 
her mother had lived, and like other women of her kin, to 
age before her time with the bearing of children in the midst 
of toil too heavy for her — dispirited by privation and the 
sorrow of relinquished hopes. Oh, well the bishop knew ! 



Frale goes to Farington 73 

He dreaded most to see the beautiful light of aspiration 
die out of her eyes, and her spirit grow sordid in the life 
to which this untamed savage would inevitably bring her. 
"What a waste !" 

And again he repeated the words, "What a waste!" 
The youth looked up, thinking himself addressed, but the 
bishop saw only the girl. It was as if she rose and stood 
there, dominant in the sweet power of her girlish self- 
sacrifice, appealing to him to help save this soul. Some- 
how, at the moment, he failed to appreciate the beauty 
of such giving. Almost it seemed to him a pity Frale 
had thus far succeeded in evading his pursuers. It would 
have saved her in spite of herself had he been taken. 

But now the situation was forced upon the bishop, 
either to give him up, which seemed an arbitrary taking 
into his own hands of power which belonged only to the 
Almighty, or to shield him as best he might, giving heed 
to the thought that even if in his eyes the value of the girl 
was immeasurably the greater, yet the youth also was 
valued, or why was he here ? 

He lifted his head and saw Frale's eyes fixed upon him 
sadly — almost as if he knew the bishop's thoughts. 
Yes, here was a soul worth while. Plainly there was but 
one course to pursue, and but one thread left to hold the 
young man to steadfast purpose. Using that thread, he 
would try. If he could be made to sacrifice for Cassandra 
some of his physical joy of life, seeking to give more than 
to appropriate to himself for his own satisfaction — if 
he could teach him the value of what she had done — 
could he rise to such a height, and learn self-control ? 

The argument for repentance having come back to him 
void, the bishop began again. "You tell me Cassandra 
has given you her promise '^ What are you^ going to do 
about it .'^ " 

"Hit's 'twixt her an' me," said the youth proudly. 

"No," thundered the bishop, all the man in him roused 
to beat into this crude, triumphant animal some sense of 
what Cassandra had really done. "No. It's betwixt you 
and the God who made you. You have to answer to God 
for what you do." He towered above him, and bending 
down, looked into Frale's eyes until the boy cowered and 
looked down, with lowered head, and there was silence. 



74 The Mountain Girl 

Then the bishop straightened himself and began pacing 
the room. At last he came to a stand and spoke quietly. 
"You have Cassandra's promise ; what are you going to do 
about it ?" 

Frale did not move or speak, and the bishop felt baflSed. 
What was going on under that passive mask he dared not 
think. To talk seemed futile, like hammering upon a 
flint wall ; but hammer he must, and again he tried. 

"You have taken a man's life; do you know what that 
means ^ " 

"Hangin', I reckon." 

" If it were only to hang, boy, it might be better for Cas- 
sandra. Think about it. If I help you, and shield you 
here, what are you going to do ^ What do you care most 
for in all this world ^ You who can kill a man and then not 
repent." 

"He hadn't ought to have riled me Hke he done; I — 
keer fer her." 

" More than for Frale Farwell .? " 

The boy looked vaguely before him. "I reckon," was 
all he said. 

Again the bishop paced the floor, and waited. 

"I hain't afeared to work — right hard." 

" Good ; what kind of work can you doV Frale flushed 
a dark red and was silent. "Yes, I know you can make 
corn whiskey, but that is the devil's work. You're not 
to work for him any more." 

Again silence. At last, in a low voice, he ventured : 
"I'll do any kind o' work you-all gin' me to do — ef — ef 
onlv the officers will leave me be — an' I tol' Cass I'd larn 
writin'." 

"Good, very good. Can you drive a horse .^ Yes, of 



course." 



Frale's eyes shone. " I reckon." 

The bishop grew more hopeful. The holy greed for 
souls fell upon him. The young man must be guarded and 
watched ; he must be washed and clothed, as well as fed, 
and right here the little wife must be consulted. He went 
out, leaving the youth to himself, and sought his brown- 
eyed, sweet-faced little wisp of a woman, where she sat 
writing his most pressing business letters for him. 

"Dearest, may I interrupt you?" 



Frale goes to Farington 75 

"In a minute, James; in a minute. I'll just address 
these." 

He dropped into a deep chair and waited, with troubled 
eyes regarding her. " There ! " She rubbed vigorously 
down on the blotter. "These are all done, every blessed 
one, James. Now what?'* 

In an instant she was curled up, feet and all, like a kitten 
in his lap, her small brown head, its wisps of fine, straight 
hair straying over temples and rounded cheeks, tucked 
comfortably under his chin; and thus every point was 
carefully talked over. 

With many exclamations of anxiety and doubt, and 
much discreet suggestion from the small adviser, it was at 
last settled. Frale was to be properly clothed from the 
missionary boxes sent every year from the North. He 
should stay with them for a while until a suitable place 
could be found for him. Above all things he must be kept 
out of bad company. 

"Oh, dear! Poor Cassandra! After all her hopes — 
and she might have done so much for her people — if 
only — " Tears stood in the brown eyes and even ran over 
and dropped upon the bishop's coat and had to be care- 
fully wiped off, for, as he feelingly remarked, — 

"I can't go about wearing my wife's tears in plain view, 
now, can I .? " 

And then Doctor Hoyle's young friend — she must hear 
his letter. How interesting he must be! Couldn't they 
have him down ? And when the bishop next went up the 
mountain, might she accompany him ? Oh, no. The trip 
was not too rough. It was quite possible for her. She 
would go to see Cassandra and the old mother. " Poor 
Cassandra!" 

But the self-respecting old stepmother and her daughter 
did not allow these kind friends to trespass on any mis- 
sionary supplies, for Uncle Jerry was despatched down the 
mountain with a bundle on the back of his saddle, which 
was quietly left at the bishop's door ; and Frale next ap- 
peared in a neat suit of homespun, home woven and dyed, 
and home-made clothing. 



CHAPTER VIII 

IN WHICH DAVID THRYNG MAKES A DISCOVERY 

Standing on the great hanging rock, before his cabin, 
Thryng imagined himself absolutely solitary in the centre 
of a wide wilderness. Even the Fall Place, where lived the 
Widow Farwell, although so near, was not visible from 
this point ; but when he began exploring the region about 
him, now on foot and now on horseback, he discovered it 
to be really a country of homes. 

Every mule path branching off into what seemed an 
inaccessible wild led to some cabin, often set in a hollow 
on a few acres of rich soil, watered by a never failing spring, 
where the forest growth had been cut away to make culti- 
vation possible. Sometimes the little log house would be 
perched like a lonely eagle's nest on a mere shelflike ledge 
jutting out from the mountain wall, but always below it or 
above it or off at one side he found the inevitable pocket 
of rich soil accumulated by the wash of years, where 
enough corn and cow-peas could be raised for cattle, and 
cotton and a few sheep to provide material for clothing the 
family, with a few fowls and pigs to provide their food. 

Here they lived, those isolated people, in quiet inde- 
pendence and contented poverty, craving little and often 
having less, caring nothing for the great world outside 
their own environment, looking after each other in times 
of sickness and trouble^ keeping alive the traditions of 
their forefathers, and clinging to the ancient family 
feuds and friendships from generation to generation. 

David soon learned that they had among themselves 
their class distinctions, certain among them holding their 
heads high, in the knowledge of having a self-respecting 
ancestry, and training their children to reckon themselves 
no "common trash," however much they deprecated 
showing the pride that was in them. 

Many days passed after Frale's departure before David 
learned more of the young man's unhappy deed. He had 
gone down to give the old mother some necessary care and, 

76 



David makes a Discovery 77 

finding her alone, remained to talk with her. Pleased with 
her quaint expressions and virile intellect, he led her on to 
speak of her youth; and one morning, weary of the solitude 
and silence, she poured out tales of Cassandra's father, 
and how, after his death, she "came to marry Farwell." 
She told of her own mother, and the hard times that fell 
upon them during the bitter days of the Civil War. 

The traditions of her family were dear to her, and she 
was well pleased to show this young doctor who had found 
the key to her warm, yet reserved, heart that she "wa'n't 
no common trash," and her " chillen wa'n't like the runo' 
chillen." 

"Seems like I'm talkin' a heap too much o' we-uns," 
she said, at last. 

"No, no. Go on. You say you had no school; how 
did you learn ? You were reading your Bible when I came 



m." 

(<- 



'No. Thar wa'n't no schools in my day, not nigh 
enough fer me to go to. Maw, she could read, an' write, 
too, but aftah paw jined the ahmy, she had to work right 
ha'd and had nothin' to do with. Paw, he had to jine one 
side or t'othah. Some went with the North and some 
went with the South, — they didn't keer much. The' wa'n't 
no niggahs up here to fight ovah. But them war cruel 
times when the bushwackers come searchin' 'round an* 
raidin' our homes. They were a bad lot — most of 'em 
war desertahs from both ahmies. We-uns war obleeged 
to hide in the bresh or up the branch — anywhar we could 
find a place to creep into. Them were bad times fer the 
women an' chillen left at home. 

"Maw used to save ev'y scrap of papah she could find 
with printin' on hit to larn we-uns our lettahs off 'n. One 
time come 'long a right decent captain and axed maw 
could she get he an' his men suthin' to eat. He had nigh 
about a dozen sogers with him ; an' maw, she done the 
bes' she could, — cooked corn-bread, an' chick'n an' sich. 
I c'n remember how he sot right on the hearth where you're 
settin' now, an' tossed flapjacks fer th' hull crowd. 

"He war right civil when he lef, an' said he'd like to give 
maw suthin', but they hadn't nothin' but Confed'rate 
money, an' hit wa'n't worth nothin' up here ; an' maw said 
would he give her the newspapah he had. She seed the 



78 The Mountain Girl 

« 

end of hit standin* out of his pocket ; an' he laughed and 
give hit out quick, an' axed her what did she want with hit ; 
and she 'lowed she could teach me a heap o' readin' out o' 
that papah, an' he laughed again, an' said likely, fer that 
hit war worth more'n the money. All the schoolin' I had 
war just that thar papah, an' that old spellin'-book you see 
on the shelf ; I c'n remembah how maw come by that, too." 

"Tell me how she came by the spelling-book, will you ?*' 

"Hit war about that time. Paw, he nevah come home 
again. I cyan't remembah much 'bouts my paw. Maw 
used to say a heap o' times if she only had a spellin'-book 
like she used to larn out'n, 'at she could larn we-uns right 
smart. Well, one day one o' the neighbors told her 'at he'd 
seed one at Gerret's, ovah t'othah side Lone Pine Creek, 
nigh about eight mile, I reckon; an' she 'lowed she'd get 
hit. So she sont we-uns ovah to Teasley's mill — she war 
that scared o' the Gorillas she didn't like leavin' we-uns 
home alone — an' she walked thar an' axed could she do 
suthin' to earn that thar book; an' ol' Miz Gerret, she 
'lowed if maw'd come Monday follerin' an' wash fer her, 
'at she mount have hit. Them days we-uns an' the Teas- 
leys war right friendly. The' wa'n't no feud 'twixt we-uns 
an' Teasleys then — but now I reckon thar's bound to be 
blood feud." She spoke very sadly and waited, leaving 
the tale of the spelling-book half told. 

"TMiy must there be 'blood feud' now.'^ Why can't 
you go on in the old way ? " 

"Hit's Frale done hit. He an' Ferd'nan' Teasley, they 
set up 'stillin' ovah in Dark Cornder yandah. Hit do 
work a heap o' trouble, that thar. I reckon you-uns don't 
have no thin' sich whar you come from.^^" 

"We have things quite as bad. So they quarrelled, did 
they?" 

"Yaas, they quarrelled, an' they fit." 

"No doubt they had been drinking." 

"Yas, I reckon." 

"But just a drunken quarrel between those two ought 
not to affect all the rest. Couldn't you patch it up among 
you, and keep the boy at home ? You must need his help 
on the place." 

"We need him bad here, but the' is no way fer to make 
up an* right a blood feud. Frale done them mean. He 



David makes a Discovery 79 

lifted his hand an' killed his friend. Hit war Sunday 
evenin' he done hit. They had been havin' a singin' thar 
at the mill, an' preachah, he war thar too, an' all war kind 
an' peaceable; an' Ferd an' Frale, they sot out fer thar 
' still ' — Ferd on foot an' Frale rid'n' his horse — the one 
you have now — they used to go that-a-way, rid'n' turn 
about — one horse with them an' one horse kep' alluz hid 
nigh the * still ' lest the gov'nment men come on 'em suddent 
like. Frale, he war right cute, he nevah war come up with. 

" 'Pears like they stopped 'fore they'd gone fer, disputin' 
'bouts some thin'. 01' Miz Teasley say she heered ther 
voices high an' loud, an' then she heered a shot right quick, 
that-a-way, an' nothin' more ; an' she sont ol' man Teasley 
an' the preachah out, an' the hull houseful foUered, an* 
thar they found Ferd lyin' shot dade — an' Frale — he 
an' the horse war gone. Ferd, he still held his own gun in 
his hand tight, like he war goin' to shoot, with the triggah 
open an' his fingah on hit — but he nevah got the chance. 
Likely if he had, hit would have been him a-hidin' now, an' 
Frale dade. I reckon so." 

Thryng listened in silence. It made him think of the 
old tales of the Scottish border. So, in plain words, the 
young man was a murderer. With deep pity he recalled 
the haunted look in Frale's eyes, and the sadness that 
trembled around Cassandra's lips as she said, "I reckon 
there is no trouble worse than ours." A thought struck 
him, and he asked : — 

"Do you know what they quarrelled about?" 

**He nevah let on what-all was the fuss. Likely he told 
Cass, but she is that still. Hit's right hard to raise a blood 
feud thar when we-uns an' the Teasleys alluz war friends. 
She took keer o' me when my chillen come, an' I took keer 
o' her with hern. Ferd'nan' too, he war like my own, fer 
I nursed him when she had the fever an' her milk lef ' her. 
Cass war only three weeks old then, an' he war nigh on a 
year, but that little an' sickly — he like to 'a' died if I hadn't 
took him." She paused and wiped away a tear that 
trickled down the furrow of her thin cheek. "If hit war 
lef to us women fer to stir 'em up, I reckon thar wouldn't 
be no feuds, fer hit's hard on we-uns when we're friendly, 
an' Ferd like my own boy that-a-way." 

"But perhaps —" David spoke musingly — "perhaps 



80 The Mountain Girl 

it was a woman who stirred up the trouble between 
them." 

The widow looked a moment with startled glance into 
his face, then turned her gaze away. *'I reckon not. The' 
is no woman far or near as I evah heern o' Frale goin' with." 

Still pondering, David rose to go, but quickly resumed 
his seat, and turned her thoughts again to the past. He 
would not leave her thus sad at heart. 

''Won't you finish telling me about the spelling-book ?" 

"I forget how come hit, but maw didn't leave wechillen 
to Teasleys' that day she went to do the washin'. Likely 
Miz Teasley war sick — anyway she lef us here. She 
baked corn-bread — hit war all we had in the house to eat 
them days, an' she fotched water fer the day, an' kivered up 
the fire. Then she locked the door an' took the key with 
her, an' tol' we-uns did we hear a noise like anybody 
tryin' to get in, to go up garret an' make out like thar 
wa'n't nobody to home. The' war three o' us chillen. 
I war the oldest.* We war Caswells, my fam'ly. My 
little brothah ^Vhitson, he war sca'cely more'n a baby, 
runnin' 'round pullin' things down on his hade whar he 
could reach, an' Cotton war mos' as much keer — that 
reckless." 

She paused and smiled as she recalled the cares of 
her childhood, then wandered on in her slow narration. 
"They done a heap o' things that day to about drive me 
plumb crazy, an' all the time we was thinkin' we heered 
men talkin' or horses trompin' outside, an' kep' ourselves 
right busy runnin' up garret to hide. 

"Along towa'ds night hit come on to snow, an' then 
turned to rain, a right cold hard rain, an' we war that cold 
an' hungry — an' Whit, he cried fer maw, — an' hit come 
dark an' we had et all the' war to eat long before, so we 
had no suppah, an' the poor leetle fellers war that cold an' 
shiverin' thar in the dark — I made 'em climb into bed 
like they war, an' kivered 'em up good, an' thar I lay tryin' 
to make out like I war maw, gettin' my arms 'round both 
of 'em to oncet. Whit cried hisself to sleep, but Cotton he 
kep' sayin' he heered men knockin' 'round outside, an' at 
last he fell asleep, too. He alluz war a natch'ly skeered 
kind o' child. 

"Then I lay thar still, list'nin' to the rain beat on the 



David makes a Discovery 81 

roof, an' thinkin' would maw ever get back again, an' 
list'nin' to hear her workin' with the lock — hit war a 
padlock on the outside — an' thar I must o' drapped off to 
sleep that-a-way, fer I didn't hear nothin', no more until I 
woke up with a soft murmurin' sound in my ears, an' thar 
I seed maw. The rain had stopped an' hit war mos' day, 
I reckon, with a mornin' moon shinin' in an' fallin' on her 
whar she knelt by the bed, clost nigh to me. I can see hit 
now, that long line o' white light streamin' acrost the 
floor an' fallin' on her, makin' her look like a white ghost 
spirit, an' her two hands held up with that thar book 
'twixt 'em. 

"I knew hit war maw, fer I'd seed her pray before, but I 
war skeered fer all that. I lay right still an' held my 
breath, an' heered her thank the Lord fer keerin' fer we-uns 
whilst she war gone, an' fer 'lowin' her to get that thar book. 

"I don't guess she knew I seed her, fer she got up right 
still an' soft, like not to wake we-uns, an' began to light the 
fire an' make some yarb tea. She war that wet an' cold 
I could see her hand shake whilst she held the match to the 
light'ud stick. Them days maw made coffee out'n burnt 
corn-bread, an' tea out'n dried blackberry leaves an' sassa- 
frax root." She paused and turned her face toward the 
open door. David thought she had lost somewhat the 
appearance of age ; certainly, what with the long rest, and 
Cassandra's loving care, she had no longer the weary, 
haggard look that had struck him when he saw her first. 

Following the direction of her gaze, he went to the shelf 
and took down the old spelling-book, and turned the leaves, 
now limp and worn. So this was Cassandra's inheritance 
— part of it — the inward impulse that would urge to 
toil all day, then walk miles in rain and darkness through 
a wilderness, and thank the Lord for the privilege — to 
own this book — not for herself, but for the generations 
to come. David touched it reverently, glad to know so 
much of her past, and turned to the old mother for more. 

"Have you anything else — like this ? " 

Her sharp eyes sparkled as she looked narrowly at him. 
*'I have suthin' 'at I hain't nevah told anybody livin' 
a word of, not even Doctah Hoyle — only he war some 
differ'nt from you. But I'm gettin' old, an' I may as well 
tell you. Likely with all your larnin' you can tell me is it 



82 The Mountain Girl 

any good to Cass. She be that sot on all sech." She 
fumbled at her throat a moment and drew from the bosom 
of her gown a leather shoe-lacing, from which dangled 
an iron key. Slowly she undid the knot, and handed it 
toward him. 

*'I nevah *low nobody on earth to touch that thar box, 
an' the' ain't a soul livin' knows what's in hit. I been 
gyardin' them like they war gold, fer they belonged to my 
ol' man — the first one — Cassandra's fathah ; but I 
reckon if I die the' won't nobody see any good in them 
things. If you'll onlock that thar padlock on that box 
yander, you'll find it wropped in a piece o' gingham. My 
paw's mothah spun an' wove that gingham — ol' Miz 
Caswell. They don't many do work like that nowadays. 
They lived right whar we a' livin' now." 

David unlocked the chest and lifted the heavy lid. 

"Hit's down in the further cornder — that's hit, I 
reckon. Just step to the door, will you, an' see is they 
anybody nigh." 

He went to the door, but saw no one ; only from the 
shed came an intermittent rat-tat-tat. 

"I don't see any one, but I hear some one pounding.'* 

"Hit's only Hoyle makin' his traps." She sighed, then 
slowly and tenderly untied the parcel and placed in his 
hands two small leather-bound books. Tied to one by 
a faded silk cord which marked the pages was a thin, 
worn ring of gold. 

"That ring war his maw's, an' when we war married, I 
wore hit, but when I took Farwell fer my ol' man, I nevah 
wore hit any more, fer he 'lowed, bein' hit war gold that-a- 
way, we'd ought to sell hit. That time I took the lock 
off 'n the door an' put hit on that thar box. Hit war my 
gran'maw's box, an' I done wore the key hyar evah since. 
Can you tell what they be ? Hit's the quarest kind of 
print I evah see. He used to make out like he could read 
hit. Likely he did, fer whatevah he said, he done." 

It seemed to her little short of a miracle that any one 
could read it, but David soon learned that her confidence 
in her first "old man" was unlimited. 

"What-all's in hit?" She grew restless while he care- 
fully and silently examined her treasure, the true signifi- 
cance of which she so little knew. Filled with amaze- 



David makes a Discovery 83 

ment and with a keen pleasure, he took the books to the 
Hght. The print was fine, even, and clear. 

"What-all be they?" she reiterated. "Reckon the're 
no good ?** 

David smiled. "In one way they're all the good in the 
world, but not for money, you know." 

"No, I don't guess. Can you read that thar quare 
pnntm f 

"Yes. The letters are Greek, and these books are about 
a hundred years old." 

"Be they .f^ Then they won't be much good to Cass, I 
reckon. He sot a heap by them, but I war 'feared they 
mount be heathen. Greek — that thar be heathen. 
Hain't hit?" ^ 

David continued, speaking more to himself than to her. 
"They were published in London in eighteen twelve. 
They have been read by some one who knew them well, 
I can see by these marginal notes." 

"What be they ?" Her curiosity was eager and intent. 

"They are explanations and comments, written here on 
the margin — see ? — with a fine pen." 

"His grandpaw done that thar. What be they about, 
anyhow?" 

"They are very old poems written long before this 
country was discovered." 

"An' that must 'a' been before the Revolution. His 
grandpaw fit in that. The' is somethin' more in thar. 
I kept hit hid, fer Farwell, he war bound to melt hit up 
fer silver bullets. He 'lowed them bullets war plumb 
sure to kill. Reckon you can find hit ? Thar 'tis." Her 
eyes shone as Thryng drew out another object also wrapped 
in gingham. "Hit's a teapot, I guess, but Farwell, he got 
a-hold of hit an' melted off the spout to make his silvah 
bullets. That time I hid all in the box an' put on the bolt 
an' lock whilst he war away 'stillin'. The' is one bullet 
left, but I reckon Frale has hit." 

David took it from her hand and turned it about. 
"Surely ! This is a treasure. Here is a coat of arms — 
but it is so worn I can't make out the emblem. Was this 
your husband's also ? Is there anything else ?" 

"That's all. Yes, they war hisn. I war plumb mad at 
Farwell. I nevah could get ovah what he done, all so't he 



84 The Mountain Girl 

mount sure kill somebody. Likely he meant them bullets 
fer the revenue officers, should they come up with him." 

*'It would have been a great pity if he had destroyed 
this mark. I think — I'm not sure — but if it's what I 
imagine, it is from an old family in Wales." 

"I reckon you're right, fer they were Welsh — his paw's 
folks way back. He used to say the' wa'n't no name 
older'n hisn since the Bible. I told him 'twar time he 
got a new one if 'twere that old, but he said he reckoned 
a name war like whiskey — hit needed a right smart o' 
age to make hit worth anything." 

Thryng laid the antique silver pot on the bed beside the 
old mother's hand and again took up the small volumes. 
As he held them, a thought flashed through his mind, yet 
hardly a thought, — it was more of an illumination, — 
like a vista suddenly opened through what had seemed an 
impenetrable, impalpable wall, beyond which lay a joy 
yet to be, but before unseen. In that instant of time, a 
vision appeared to him of what life might bring, glorified 
by a tender light as of red fire seen through a sweet, blue, 
obscuring mist, and making thus a halo about the one 
figure of the vision outlined against it, clear and fine. 

"'Pears like you find somethin' right interestin' in that 
book ; be you readin' hit V^ 

"I find a glorious prophecy. Was your first husband 
born and raised here as you were ?" 

"Not on this spot; but he was born an' raised like we- 
uns here in the mountains — ovah th'other side Pisgah. 
I seed him first when I wa'n't more'n seventeen. He come 
here fer — I don't rightly recollect what, only he had been 
deer huntin' an' come late evenin' he drapped in. He 
had lost his dog, an' he had a bag o' birds, an' he axed 
maw could she cook 'em an' give him suppah, an' maw, 
she took to him right smaht. 

** Aftah suppah — I remember like hit war last evenin' 
— he took gran'paw's old fiddle an' tuned hit up an' sot 
thar an* played everything you evah heered. He played 
like the' war birds singin' an' rain fallin', an' like the wind 
when hit goes wailin' round the house in the pine tops — 
soft an' sad — like that-a-way. Gran'paw's old fiddle. 
I used to keer a heap fer hit, but one time Farwell got 
religion, an' he took an' broke hit 'cause he war 'feared 



David makes a Discovery 85 

Frale mount larn to play an' hit would be a temptation 
of the devil to him." 

"Well, I say ! That was a crime, you know." 

"Yes. Sometimes I lay here an' say what-all did I 
marry Farwell fer, anyway. Well — every man has his 
failin's, the' say, an' Farwell, he sure had hisn." 

"May I keep these books a short time "^ I will be very 
careful of them. You know that, or you would not have 
shown them to me," 

"You take them as long as you like. Hit ain't like hit 
used to be. Books is easy come by these days — too easy, 
I reckon. Cassandrj^ she brung a whole basketful of 
'em with her. Thar they be on that cheer behin' my 
spinnin'- wheel." 

"Was the basket full of books .^ So, that was why it 
was so heavy. Might I have a look at them ?" 

"Look 'em ovah all you want to. She won't keer, I 
reckon. She hain't had a mite o' time since she come home 
to look at 'em." 

But David thought better of it. He would not look 
in her basket and pry among her treasures without her 
permission. 

"When is she coming back.^^" he asked, awakened to 
desire further knowledge of the silent girl's aspirations. 

"Soon, I reckon. She's been a right smart spell longah 
now 'n she 'lowed she'd be. Hit's old man Irwin. He's 
been hurted some way. She went ovah to see could Aunt 
Sally Carew go an' help Miz Irwin keer fer him — she's 
a fool thing, don't know nothin'. They sont down fer 
me — but here I be, so she rode the colt ovah fer Sally.'* 

David wrapped and tied the piece of silver as he had 
found it. As he replaced it in the box, he discovered the 
pieces of the broken fiddle loosely tied in a sack, precious 
relics of a joy that was past. Carefully he locked the box 
and returned the key, but the books he folded in the strip 
of gingham and carried away with him. 

"I'll be back to-night or in the morning. If she doesn't 
return, send Hoyle for me. You mustn't be too long 
alone. Shall I mend the fire .^ " 

He threw on another log, then lifted her a little and 
brought her a glass of cool water, and climbed back to his 
cabin, walking hghtly and swiftly. 



CHAPTER IX 

IN WHICH DAVID ACCOMPANIES CASSANDRA ON AN ERRANT 

OF MERCY 

Filled with the enthusiasm of his thoughts, David 
cHmbed too rapidly, and now he found he must take the 
more gradual rise of the mule trail without haste. His 
cap thrust in his pocket, the breeze lifted his hair and 
dried the perspiration which would still come with any too 
eager exertion. But why should he care ? Even to be 
alive these days was joy. This was continually the refrain 
of his heart, nor had he begun to exhaust his resources 
for entertainment in his solitary life. 

Never were the days too long. Each was filled with 
such new and lively interest as to preclude the thought of 
ennui. To provide against it, he had sent for books — 
more than he had had time to read in all the busy days of 
the last three years. These and his microscope and his 
surgical instruments had been brought him on a mule 
team by Jerry Carew, who did his "toting" for him, 
fetching all he needed for work or comfort, in this way, 
from the nearest station where goods could be sent until 
the hotel opened in the early summer. Not that he needed 
them, but that, as an artist loves to keep a supply of paints 
and canvas, or a writer — even when idle — is happier to 
know that he has at hand plenty of pens and blank paper, 
he liked to have them. 

Thus far he had felt no more need of his books than he 
had for his surgical instruments, but now he was glad 
he had them for the sake of the girl who was "that sot on 
all such." He would open the box the moment he had 
eaten, and look them over. The little brother should take 
them down to her one at a time — or better — he would 
take them himself and watch the smile which came so 
rarely and sweetly to play about her lips, and in her eyes, 
and vanish. Surely he had a right to that for his pains. 

He heard the sound of rapid hoof beats approaching 
across the level space from the cabin above him, and look- 

86 



An Errand of Mercy 87 

iag up, as if conjured from his innermost thought, he saw 
her coming, allowing the colt to swing along as he would. 
Her bonnet hung by the strings from her arm, her hair 
blew in crinkling wisps across her face, and the rapid 
exercise had brought roses into the creamy whiteness of 
her skin. She kept to the brow of the ridge and would 
have passed him unseeing, her eyes fixed on the distant 
hills, had he not called to her in his clear Alpine jodel. 

She reined in sharply and, slipping from the saddle, 
walked quickly to him, leading the colt, which was warm 
and panting as if he had carried her a good distance at 
that pace. 

"Oh, Doctor Thryng, we need you right bad. That's 
why I took this way home. Have you been to the 
house ? " 

"Yes. I have just come from there." 

"Is mother all right .?^" 

"Doing splendidly." He waited, and she lifted her face 
to him anxiously. 

"We need you bad. Doctor." 

"Yes — but not you — you're not — " he began 
stupidly. 

"It's Mr. Irwin. I went there to see could I help any, 
and seemed like I couldn't get here soon enough. When 
I found you were not at home, I was that troubled. Can 
— can you go up there and see why I can't rest for think- 
ing he's a heap worse than he reckons ? He thinks he's 
better, but — but — " 

"Come in and rest and tell me about it." 

"Mistress Irwin isn't quite well, and I must go back as 
soon as I can get everything done at home. I must get 
dinner for mother and Hoyle. You have been that kind 
to mother — I thought — I thought — if you could only 
see him — they can't spare him to die." 

" Indeed, I'll go, gladly. But you must tell me more, 
so that I may know what to take with me. What is the 
matter with the man ? Is he ill or hurt ? Let me — oh, 
you are an independent young woman." 

She had turned from him to mount, and he stepped 
forward with outstretched hand to aid her, but, in a breath, 
not seeing his offer, she placed her two hands on the horn 
of the saddle, and from the slight rise of ground whereon 



88 The Mountain Girl 

she stood, with one agile spring, landed easily in the saddle 
and wheeled about. 

*'He's been cutting trees to clear a patch for corn, and 
some way he hurt his foot, and he's been lying there nigh 
a week with the misery. Last evening she sent one of the 
children for mother, not knowing she was bad herself, 
so I went for Aunt Sally ; but she was gone, so I rode on 
to the Irwins to see could I help. He said he wasn't 
suffering so much to-day, and it made my heart just stop 
to hear that, when he couldn't lift himself. You see, my 
stepfather — he — he was shot in the arm, and right soon 
when the misery left him, he died, so I didn't say much — 
but on the way home I thought of you, and I came here 
fast. We know so little here on the mountains," she added 
sadly, as she looked earnestly down at him. 

"You have acted wisely. Just ride on, Miss Cassandra, 
and I will follow as soon as — '* 

"Come dovv^n with me now and have dinnah at our place. 
Then we can start togethah." 

"Thank you, I will. You are more expert in the art of 
dinner getting than I am, so we will lose less time." He 
laughed and was rewarded with the flash of a grateful 
smile as she started on without another w^ord. 

It took David but a few minutes to select what articles 
he suspected, from her account, might be required. He 
hurried his preparations, and, being his own groom, stable 
boy, and man-of-all-work, he was very busy about it. 

As a strain of music or a floating melody will linger in 
the background with insistent repetition, while the brain 
is at the same time busily occupied with surface affairs, 
so he found himself repeating some of her quaint phrases, 
and seeing her eyes — the wisps of wind-blown hair — 
and the smile on her lips, as she turned away, like an 
accompaniment to all he was thinking and doing. 

Soon, equipped for whatever the emergency might 
demand, he was at the widow's door. His horse nickered 
and stretched out his nose toward Cassandra's colt as 
if glad to have once more a little horse companionship. 
Side by side they stood, with bridles slipped back and hung 
to their saddles, while they crunched contentedly at the 
corn on the ear, which Hoyle had brought them. 

While at dinner, Cassandra showed David her books, 



An Errand of Mercy 89 

pleased that he asked to see them. "I brought them to 
study, should I get time. It's right hard to give up hope 
— " she glanced at her mother and lowered her voice. 
*'To stop — anyhow — I thought I might teach Hoyie 
a little." 

"Ah, these are mostly school-books," he said, glancing 
them over. 

"Yes, I was at school this time — near Farington it was. 
Once I stayed with Bishop Towahs and helped do house- 
work. I could learn a heap there — between times. 
They let me have all the books I wanted to read." She 
looked lovingly at her few precious school-books. "I 
haven't touched these since I got back — we're that 
busy." 

Then she resumed her work about the house, cooking 
at the fireplace, waiting upon David, and serving her 
mother, while directing Hoyle what to do, should she be 
detained that night. He demurred and hung about her, 
begging her not to stay. 

"I won't, son, without I can't help it. You won't 
care so much now — mother's not bad like she was." 

"Yas, I will," he mourned. 

"I reckon I'll have to call you 'baby' again," said his 
mother. " You're gettin' that babyfied since Cass come 
back doin' all fer ye. You has a heap o' compan3^ Thar's 
the cow to keer fer, 'n' ol' Pete hollerin' at ye, an' the 
chickens tellin' how many aigs they've laid fer ye. Run 
now. Thar's ol' Frizzle cacklin'. Get the aig, an' we'll 
send hit to the pore sick man. Thar, Cass," she added, as 
Hoyle ran out, half ashamed, to do her bidding — "hit's 
your own fault fer makin' such a baby of him. I 'low 
you betteh take 'long a few fresh aigs ; likely they'll need 
'em, so triflin' they be. I don't guess you'll find a thing in 
the house fer him to eat." 

Cassandra packed one of her oddty shaped little baskets, 
as her mother suggested, for the sadly demoralized and 
distracted family to which they were going, and tucked in 
with the rest the warm, newly laid egg Hoyle brought her, 
smiling indulgently, and kissing his upturned face as she 
took it from him. 

Toward David she was alwavs entirely simple and 
natural, except when abashed by his speech, which seemed 



90 The Mountain Girl 

to her most elaborate and sometimes mystifying. She 
would pause and gaze on him an instant when he extended 
to her a courtesy, as if to give it its exact value. Not 
that she in the least distrusted him, quite the contrary, 
but that she was wholly unused to hearing phrased cour- 
tesies, or enthusiasms expressed in the form of words. 

She had seen something of it in the bishop's pretty 
complimentary pleasantries with his wife, but David's 
manner of handing her a chair, offering her a suggestion 
— with a "May I be allowed.'^" was foreign to her, and 
she accepted such remarks with a moment's hesitation 
and a certain aloofness hardly understood by him. 

He found himself treating her with a measure of freedom 
from the constraint which men often place upon themselves 
because of the recognition of the personal element which 
will obtrude between them and femininity in general. 
He recognized the reason for this in her absolute lack of 
coquetry toward him, but analyze the phenomenon, as 
yet, he could not. 

To her he was a being from another world, strange and 
delightful, but set as far from her as if the sea divided them. 
She turned toward him sweet, expectant eyes. She lis- 
tened attentively, gropingly sometimes. She would under- 
stand him if she could, — would learn from him and trust 
him implicitly, — but her femininity never obtruded itself. 
Hei personality seemed to be enclosed within herself 
and never to lean toward him with the subtile flattery men 
feel and like to awaken, but which they often fear to arouse 
when they wish to remain themselves unstirred. Her 
dignified poise and perfect freedom from all arts to attract 
his favor and attention pleased him, but while it gave him 
the safe and unconstrained feeling when with her, it still 
piqued his man's nature a little to see her so capable of 
showing tenderness to her own, yet so unstirred by him- 
self. 

Cassandra had never been up to his cabin when he was 
there, until to-day, since the morning she came to consult 
him about Frale, nor had that young man's name been 
uttered between them. David had said nothing to her of 
the return of the valise, not wishing to touch on the sub- 
ject unless she gave the opportunity for him to ask what 
she knew about it. Now, since his morning's talk with her 



An Errand of Mercy 91 

mother had envisioned an ideal, and shown a glory beyond, 
he was glad to have this opportunity of being alone with 
her and of sounding her depths. 

For a long time they rode in silence, and he remembered 
her mother's words, "He may have told Cass, but she is 
that still." She carried her basket carefully before her 
on the pommel of her saddle. Gradually the large sun- 
bonnet which quite hid her face slipped back, and the sun 
lighted the bronze tints of her hair. As he rode at her 
side he studied her watchfully, so simply dressed in home- 
spun material which had faded from its original color to 
a sort of turquoise green. The stuff was heavy and clung 
closely to her figure, and she rode easily, perched on her 
small, old-fashioned side-saddle, swaying with lithe move- 
ment to the motion of her horse. She wore no wrap, 
only a soft silk kerchief knotted about her neck, the flutter- 
ing ends of which caressed her chin. 

Her cheeks became rosy with the exercise, and her gray 
eyes, under the green pines and among the dense laurel 
thickets, took on a warm, luminous green tint like the hue 
of her dress. David at last found it difiicult to keep his 
eyes from her,* — this veritable flower of the wilderness, — 
and all this time no word had been spoken between them. 
How impersonal and far away from him she seemed ! 
While he was filled with interest in her and eager to learn 
the secret springs of her life, she was riding on and on, 
swaying to her horse as a flower on its slender stem sways 
in a breeze, as undisturbed bv him as if she were not a 
human breathing girl, subject to man's dominating power. 

Was she, then, so utterly untouched by his masculine 
presence ? he wondered. If he did not speak first, would 
she keep silent forever ? Should he wait and see ? Should 
he will her to speak and of herself unfold to him ? 

Suddenly she turned and looked clearly and pleasantly 
in his eyes. "We'll be on a straight road for a piece after 
this hill ; shall we hurry a little then ? " 

"Certainly, if you think best. You set the pace, and 
I'll follow." Again silence fell. 

"Do you feel in a hurry ?" he asked at length. 

"I would like to get there soon. We can't tell what 
might be." She pressed her hand an instant to her throat 
and drew in her breath as if something hurt her. 



92 The Mountain Girl 

"What is it?" he asked, drawing his horse nearer. 

** Nothing. Only I wish we were there now." 

"You are suffering in anticipation, and it isn't necessary. 
Better not, indeed. Think of something else." 

"Yes, suli." The two little words sounded humbly 
submissive. He had never been so baffled in an endeavor 
to bring another soul into a mood responsive to his own. 
This gentle acquiescence w as not what he wished, but that 
she should reveal herself and betray to him even a hint 
— a gleam — of the deep undercurrent of her life. 

Suddenly they emerged on the crest of a narrow ridge 
from which they could see off over range after range of 
mountain peaks on one side, growing dimmer, bluer, and 
more evanescent until lost in a heavenly distance, and on 
the other side a valley dropping down and down into a deep 
and purple gloom richly w^ooded and dense, surrounded 
by precipices topped with scrubby, wind-blown pines and 
oaks — a wild and rocky descent into mystery and seclu- 
sion. Here and there a slender thread of smoke, intensely 
blue, rose circling and filtering through the purple density 
against a black-green background of hemlocks. 

Contrasted w ith the view^ on the other side, so celestially 
fair, this seemed to present something sinister, yet weirdly 
beautiful — a baffling, untamed wilderness. Along this 
ridge the road ran straight before them for a distance, 
stony and bleak, and the air swept over it sweet and strong 
from the sea, far aw^ay. 

"Wait — wait a moment," he called, as his panting horse 
rounded the last curve of the climb, and she had already 
put her own to a gallop. She reined in sharply and came 
back to him, a glowing vision. "Stand a moment near 
me. We'll let our horses rest a bit and ourselves, too. 
There is strength and vitality in this air ; breathe it in 
deeply. ^ATiat joy to be alive !" 

She came near, and their horses held quiet commamion, 
putting their noses together contentedly. Cassandra 
lifted her head high and turned her face toward the bil- 
lowed mountains, and did what Thryng had not known 
her to do, what he had wondered if she ever did — She 
laughed — laughed aloud and joyously. 

"Why do you laugh ?" he asked, and laughed with her. 

"I'm that glad all at once. I don't know why. If the 



An Errand of Mercy 93 

mountains could feel and be glad, seems like they'd be 
laughing now away off there by the sea. I wonder will 
I ever see the ocean." 

"Of course you will. You are not going to live always 
shut up in these mountains. Laugh again. Let me hear 
you." 

But she turned on him startled eyes. *'I clean forgot 
that poor man down below, so like to die I am 'most afraid 
to get back there. Look down. It must have been in a 
place like that where Christian slew Apollyon in the dark 
valley, like I was reading to Hoyle last night." 

*'Does he live down in there .^ I mean the man Irwin 

— not Apollyon. He's dead, for Christian slew him." 
"Yes, the Irwins live there. See yonder that spot of 

cleared red ground ? There's their place. The house is 
hid by the dark trees nigh the red spot. Can you make 
it out?" 

"Yes, but I call that far." 

" It's easy riding. Shall we go on .^^ I'm that frightened 

— we'd better hurry." 

"Is that your way when you are afraid to do a thing; 
you hurry to do it all the more ? " 

"Seems like we have to a heap of times. Seems like if 
I were only a man, I could be brave, but being a girl so, it 
is right hard." 

She started her horse to a gallop, and side by side they 
hurried over the level top of the ridge — to Thryng an 
exhilarating moment, to her a speeding toward some 
terrible, unknown trial. 



CHAPTER X 

IN WHICH CASSANDRA AND DAVID VISIT THE HOME OP 

DECATUR IRWIN 

Soon the way became steep and difficult and the path 
so narrow they were forced to go single file. Then Cas- 
sandra led and David followed. They passed no dwellings, 
and even the little home to which they were going was 
lost to view. He wondered if she were not weary, remem- 
bering that she had been over the distance twice before 
that day, and begged her, as he had done when they set 
out, to allow him to carry the basket, but still she would 
not. 

*'I never think of it. I often carry things this way. 
— We have to here in the mountains." She glanced back 
at him and smiled. *'I reckon you find it hard because 
you are not used to living like we do; we're soon there 
now, see yonder ? " 

A turn in the path brought them in sight of the cabin, 
set in its bare, desolate patch of red soil. About the door 
swarmed unkempt children of all sizes, as bees hang out 
of an over-filled hive, the largest not more than twelve 
years old, and the youngest carried on the mother's arm. 
It was David's first visit to one of the poorest of the moun- 
tain homes, and he surveyed the scene before him with 
dismay. 

Below the house was a spring, and there, suspended from 
the long-reaching branch of a huge beech tree, now leaf- 
less and bare, a great, black iron pot swung by a chain 
over a fire built on the ground among a heap of stones. 
On a board at one side lay wet, gray garments, twisted 
in knots as they had been wrung out of the soapy water. 
The woman had been washing, and the vapor was rising 
from the black pot of boiling suds, but, seeing their ap- 
proach, she had gone to her door, her babe on her arm 
and the other children trooping at her heels and clinging 
to her skirts. They peered up from under frowzy, over- 

94 



Cassandra and David 95 

hanging locks of hair like a group of ragged, bedraggled 
Scotch terriers. 

The mother herself seemed scarcely older than the oldest, 
and Thryng regarded her with amazement when he noticed 
her infantile, undeveloped face and learned that she had 
brought into the world all those who clustered about her. 
His amazement grew as he entered the dark little cabin 
and saw that they must all eat and sleep in its one small 
room, which they seemed to fill to overflowing as they 
crowded in after him, accompanied by three lean hounds, 
who sniffed suspiciously at his leggings. 

Far in the darkest corner lay the father on a pallet of 
corn-husks covered with soiled bedclothing. The windows 
w^ere mere holes in the walls, unglazed, unframed, and 
closed at night or in bad weather by wooden shutters, 
when the room was lighted only by the flames from the 
now black and empty fireplace. Here, while mother 
and children were out by '*the branch'* washing, the 
injured man lay alone, stoically patient, declaring that 
his "laig" was some better, that he did not feel '*so much 
misery in hit as yesterday.'* 

Thryng had seen much squalor and wretchedness, but 
never before in a home in the country where women and 
children were to be found. For a moment he looked 
helplessly at the silent, staring group, and at the man, who 
feebly tried to indicate to his wife the extending of some 
courtesy to the stranger. 

"Set a cheer, Polly," he said weakly, offering his great 
hand. "You are right welcome, suh. Are you visitin' these 
parts ?'* 

"This is the doctor I was telling you about, Cate, — 
Doctor Thryng. I begged him to come up and see could 
he do anything for you," said Cassandra. Then she urged 
the woman to go back to her work and take the children 
with her. "Doctor and I will look after your old man 
awhile." She succeeded in clearing the place of all but one 
lean hound, who continued to stand by his master and 
lick his hand, whining presciently, and one or two of the 
children, who lingered around the door to peer in cu- 
riously at the doctor. 

A shutter near the bed was tightly closed and, in strug- 
gling to open it, Cassandra discovered it was broken at the 



96 The Mountain Girl 

hinges and had been nailed in place. David flew to hei 
assistance and, wrenching out the nails, tore it free, let- 
ting in a flood of light upon the wretchedness around them. 
Then he turned his attention to the patient, a man of 
powerful frame, but lean almost to emaciation, who 
w^atched the young physician's face silently with widely 
opened blue eyes, their pale color intensified by the sur- 
rounding shock of matted, curling, vividly red hair and 
beard. 

It required but a few moments to ascertain that the 
man's condition was indeed critical. Cassandra had gone 
out and now returned with her hands full of dry pine 
sticks. Bending on one knee before the empty fireplace, 
she arranged them and hung a kettle over them full of 
fresh water. David turned and watched her light the 
fire. 

"Good. We shall need hot water immediately. How 
long since you have eaten ? *' he asked the man. 

"He hain't eat nothing all day," said the wife, who 
had returned and again stood in the door with all her 
flock, gazing at him. Then the woman grew plaintively 
garrulous about the trouble she had had "doin' fer him," 
and begged David to tell her "could he he'p 'im." At 
last Thryng put a hurried end to her talk by saying he 
could do nothing — nothing at all for her old man, un- 
less she took herself and the children all away. She 
looked terror-stricken, and her mouth drew together in 
a stubborn, resentful line as if in some way he had pre- 
cipitated ill luck upon them by his coming. Cassandra 
at once took her basket and walked out toward the stream, 
and they all followed, leaving David and the father in 
sole possession of the place. 

Then he turned to the bed and began a kindly explana- 
tion. He fourxi the man more intelligent and much 
more tractable than the woman, but it was hard to make 
him believe that he must inevitably lose either his life 
or his foot, and that they had not an hour — not a half 
hour — to spare, but must decide at once. David's 
manner, gentle, but firmly urgent, at last succeeded. The 
big man broke down and wept weakly, but yielded; only 
he stipulated that his wife must not be told. 

"No, no ! She and the children must be kept away; 



Cassandra and David 97 

but I need help. Is there no one — no man whom we can 
get to come here quickly ? " 

"They is nobody — naw — I reckon not." 

David was distressed, but he searched about until he 
found an old battered pail in which to prepare his anti- 
septic, and busied himself in replenishing the fire and 
boiling the water ; all the time his every move was watched 
by the hound and the pathetic blue eyes of his master. 

Soon Cassandra returned, to David's great relief, alone. 
She smiled as she looked in his face, and spoke quietly : 
"I told her to take the children and gather dock and 
mullein leaves and such like to make tea for her old man, 
and if she'd stay awhile, I'd look after him and have supper 
for them when they got back. Is there anything I can do 
now .? '; 

David was troubled indeed, but what could he do ? 
He explained his need of her quickly, in low tones, out- 
side the door. *'I believe you are strong and brave and 
can do it as well as a man, but I hate to ask it of you. 
There is not time to wait. It must be done to-day, now." 

"I'll help you," she said simply, and walked into the 
hut. She had become deadly pale, and he followed her 
and placed his fingers on her pulse, holding her hand and 
looking down in her eyes. 

"You trust me.^^" he asked. 

"Oh, yes. I must." 

"Yes — you must — dear child. You are all right. 
Don't be troubled, but just think we are trying to save 
his life. Look at me now, and take in all I say." 

Then he placed her with her back to his work, taught 
her how to count the man's pulse and to give the ether; 
but the patient demurred. He would not take it. 

"Naw, I kin stand hit. Go ahead. Doctor." 

"See here. Gate Irwin. You are bound to do as Doctor 
Thryng says or die," she said, bending over him. "Take 
this, and I'll sit by you every minute and never take 
my hand off yours. Stop tossing. There ! " He obeyed 
her, and she sat rigidly still and waited. 

The moments passed in absolute silence. Her heart 
pounded in her breast and she grew cold, but never took 
her eyes from the still, deathlike face before her. In 
her heart she was praying — praying to be strong enough 



98 The Mountain Girl 

to endure the horror of it — not to faint nor fall — until 
at last it seemed to her that she had turned to stone in her 
place; but all the time she could feel the faintly beating 
pulse beneath her fingers, and kept repeating David's 
words: "We are trying to save his life — we are trying 
to save his life." 

David finished. Moving rapidly about, he washed, cov- 
ered, and carried away, and set all in order so that noth- 
ing betrayed his grewsome task. Then he came to her 
and took both her cold hands in his warm ones and led 
her to the door. She swayed and walked weakly. He 
supported hfer with his arm and, once out in the sweet 
air, she quickly recovered. He praised her warmly, 
eagerly, taking her hands in his, and for the first time, 
as the faint rose crept into her cheeks, he felt her to be 
moved by his words ; but she only smiled as she drew her 
hands aw^ay and turned toward the house. 

"They'll be back directly, and I promised to have 
something for them to eat." 

"Then I'll help you, for our man is coming out all 
right now, and I feel — if he can have any kind of care — 
he will live." 

The sky had become overcast with heavy clouds and 
the wind had risen, blowing cold from the north. David 
replaced the shutter he had torn off and mended the fire 
with fuel he found scattered about the yard; while 
Cassandra swept and set the place in order and the re- 
suscitated patient looked about a room neater and 
more homelike than he had ever slept in before. Cas- 
sandra searched out a few articles with which to prepare a 
meal — the usual food of the mountain poor — salt pork, 
and corn-meal mixed with water and salt and baked in the 
ashes. David watched her as she moved about the dark 
cabin, lighted only by the fitful flames of the fireplace, 
to perform those gracious, homely tasks, and would 
have helped her, but he could not. 

At last the woman and her brood came streaming in, 
and Cassandra and the doctor were glad to escape into 
the outer air. He tried to make the mother understand 
his directions as to the care of her husband, but her pas- 
sive "Yas, suh" did not reassure him that his wishes 
would be carried out, and his hopes for the man's recovery 



Cassandra and David 99 

grew less as he realized the conditions of the home. After 
riding a short distance, he turned to Cassandra. 

"Won't you go back and make her understand that he 
is to be left absolutely alone ? Scare her into making the 
children keep away from his bed, and not climb into it. 
You made him do as I wished, with only a word, and 
maybe you can do something with her. I can't." 

She turned back, and David watched her at the door 
talking with the woman, who came out to her and handed 
her a bundle of something tied in a meal sack. He won- 
dered what it might be, and Cassandra explained. 

"These are the yarbs I sent her and the children aftah. 
I didn't know how to rid the cabin of them without I 
sent for something, and now I don't know what to do 
with these. We — we're obliged to use them some way." 
She hesitated — "I reckon I didn't do right telling her 
that — do you guess "^ I had to make out like you needed 
them and had sent back for them ; it — it wouldn't do 
to mad her — not one of her sort." Her head drooped 
with shame and she added pleadingly, "Mother has used 
these plants for making tea for sick folks — but — " 

He rode to her side and lifted the unwieldy load to his 
own horse, "Be ye wise as a serpent and harmless as a 
dove," he said, laughing. 

"How do you mean "^ " 

"You were wise. You did right where I would only have 
dove harm and been brutal. Can't you see these have 
already served their purpose ?" 

"I don't understand." 

"You told her to get them because you wished to make 
her think she was doing something for her husband, 
didn't you ^ And you couldn't say to her that she would 
help most by taking herself out of the way, could you .^ She 
could not understand, and so they have served their pur- 
pose as a means of getting her quietly and harmlessly 
away so we could properly do our work." 

"But I didn't say so — not rightly; I made her 
think — " 

"Never mind what you said or made her think. You 
did right, God knows. We are all made to work out 
£jood — often when we think erroneously, just as you 
made her uncomprehendingly do what she ought. If 



100 The Mountain Girl 

ever she grows wise enough to understand, well and good ^ 
if not, no harm is done.'* 

Cassandra listened, but doubtingly. At last she stopped 
her horse. *'If you can't use them, I feel like I ought to 
go back and explain," she said. Her face gleamed whitely 
out of the gathering dusk, and he saw her shiver in the cold 
and bitter wind. He was more warmly dressed than she, 
and still he felt it cut through him icily. 

'"No. You shall not go back one step. It would be a 
useless waste of your time and strength. Later, if you 
still feel that you must, you can explain. Come." 

She yielded, touched her horse lightly with her whip, and 
they hurried on. The night was rapidly closing in, the 
thick, dark shadows creeping up from the gorges below as 
they climbed the rugged steep they had descended three 
hours earlier. They picked their way in silence, she ahead, 
and he following closely. He wondered what might be 
her thoughts, and if she had inherited, along with much 
else that he could perceive, the Puritan conscience which 
had possibly driven some ancestor here to live undisturbed 
of his precious scruples. 

When they emerged at last on the level ridge where she 
fiad so joyously laughed out, Thryng hurried forward and 
again rode at her side. She sat wearily now, holding the 
reins with chilled hands. Had she forgotten the happy 
moment ? He had not. The wind blew more shrewdly 
past them, and a few drops of rain, large and icy cold, 
struck their faces. 

"Put these on your hands, please," he begged, pulling 
off his thick gloves ; but she would not. 

He reached for the bridle of her horse and drew him 
nearer, then caught her cold hands and began chafing 
them, first one and then the other. Then he slipped the 
warm gloves over them. "Wear them a little while to 
please me," he urged. "You have no coat, and mine is 
thick and warm." 

Suddenly he became aware that she was and had been 
silently weeping, and he was filled with anxiety for her, 
so brave she had been, so tired she must be — worn out — 
poor little heart ! 

"Are you so tired ?" he asked. 

"Oh, no, no." 



Cassandra and David 101 

"Won't you tell me what troubles you? Let me put 
this over your shoulders to keep off the rain." 

"Oh, no, no !" she cried, as he began to remove his coat. 
"You need it a heap more than I. You have been sick, 
and I am well.'* 

"Please wear it. I will walk a little to keep warm." 

"Oh ! I can't. I'm not cold, Doctor Thryng. It isn't 
that." 

He became imperative through anxiety. "Then tell me 
what it is," he said. 

"I can't stop thinking of Decatur Irwin. I can feel you 
working there yet, and seems like I never will forget. I 
keep going over it and over it and can't stop. Doctor, 
are you sure — sure — it was right for us to do what we 
did?" 

"Poor child ! It was terrible for you, and you were fine, 
you know — fine; you are a heroine — you are — " 

"I don't care for me. It isn't me. Was it right. 
Doctor ? Was there no other way ? " she wailed. 

"As far as human knowledge goes, there was no other 
wa3^ Listen, Miss Cassandra, I have been where such 
accidents were frequent. Many a man's leg have I taken 
off. Surgery is my work in life — don't be horrified. I 
chose it because I wished to be a saver of life and a helper 
of my fellows." She was shivering more from the nervous 
reaction than from the cold, and to David it seemed as if 
she were trying to draw farther away from him. 

"Don't shrink from me. There are so many in the world 
to kill and wound, some there must be to mend where it is 
possible. I saw in a moment that your intuition had led 
you rightly, and soon I knew what must be done; I only 
hope we were not too late. Don't cry, Miss Cassandra. 
It makes me feel such a brute to have put you through 
it." 

"No, no. You were right kind and good. I'm only 
crying now because I can't stop." 

"There, there, child ! We'll ride a little faster. I must 
get you home and do something for you." He spoke out 
of the tenderness of his heart toward her. 

But soon they were again descending, and the horses, 
careful for their own safety if not for their riders', continued 
slowly and stumblingly to pick their footing in the darkness. 



102 The Mountain Girl 

Now the rain began to beat more fiercely, and before they 
reached the Fall Place they were wet to the skin. 

David feared neither the wetting nor the cold for him- 
self ; only for her in her utter weariness was he anxious. 
She would help him stable the horses and led away one 
while he led the other, but once in the house he took 
matters in his own hands peremptorily. He rebuilt the 
fire and himself removed her wet garments and her shoes. 
She was too exhausted to resist. Following the old moth- 
er's directions, he found woollen blankets and, wrapping 
her about, he took her up like a baby and laid her on her 
bed. Then he brewed her a hot milk punch and made her 
take it. 

"You need this more than I, Doctah. If you'll just 
take some yourself, as soon as I can I'll make your bed 
in the loom shed again, and — " 

*' Drink it; drink it and go to sleep. Yes, yes. I'll have 
some, too.'* 

**Cass, you lie still and do as doctah says. You nigh 
about dade, child. If only I could get off'n this bed an' 
walk a leetle, I'd 'a' had your place all ready fer ye, Doctah. 
The' is a featheh bade up garret, if ye could tote hit down 
an' drap on the floor here fer — " 

David laughed cheerily. "Why, this is nothing for me." 
He stood turning himself about to dry his clothing on all 
sides before the blaze. "As soon as Miss Cassandra closes 
her eyes and sleeps, I w^ill look after myself. It's a shame 
to bring all these wet things in here, I say ! " 

"You are a-steamin' like you are a steam engine," piped 
little Hoyle, peering at him over his mother's shoulder 
from the far corner of her bed. 

"You lie down and go to sleep again, youngster," said 
David. 

x^Lnd gradually they all fell asleep, while Thryng sat long 
before the fire and pondered until Cassandra slept. Once and 
again a deep quivering sigh trembled through her parted 
lips, as he watched beside her. A warm rose hue played 
over her still features, cast by the dancing red flames, and 
her hair in a dishevelled mass swept across the pillow and 
down to the floor. At last the rain ceased ; warmed and 
dried, Thryng stole away from the silent house and rode 
back to his own cabin. 



CHAPTER XI 

IN WHICH SPRING COMES TO THE MOUNTAINS, AND CAS- 
SANDRA TELLS DAVID OF HER FATHER 

Ere long such a spring as David had never dreamed of 
swept up the mountain, with a charm so surpassing and 
transcending any imagined beauty that he was filled with 
a sort of ecstasy. He was constantly out upon the hills 
revelling in the lavish bounty of earth and sky, of rushing 
waters, and all the subtile changes in growing things, 
as if at last he had been clasped to the heart of nature. 
He visited the cabins wherever he was called, and when 
there was need for Cassandra's ministrations he often 
took her with him ; thus they fell naturally into good 
camaraderie. Thus, also, quite as naturally, Cassandra's 
speech became more correct and fluent, even while it lost 
none of its lingering delicacy of intonation. 

David provided her with books, as he had promised 
himself. Sometimes he brought them down to her, and 
they read together ; sometimes he left them with her and 
she read them by herself eagerly and happily; but so busy 
was she that she found very little time to be with him. 
Not only did all the work of the household fall on her, 
but the weaving, which her mother had done heretofore, 
and the care of the animals, which had been done by 
Frale. 

The life she had hoped to lead and the good she had 
longed to do when she left home for school, encouraged by 
the bishop and his wife, she now resolutely put away from 
her, determined to lead in the best way the life that she 
knew must henceforth be hers. She hoped at least she 
might be able to bring the home place back to what it 
used to be in her Grandfather Caswell's time, and to this 
end she labored patiently; albeit sadly. 

David was ever aware of a barrier past which he might 
never step, no matter how merry or how intimate they 
might seem to be, and always about her a silent air of 
waiting, which deterred him in his efforts to draw her 

103 



* 



104 The Mountain Girl 

into more confidential relations. Yet as the days passed, 
he became more interested in her, influenced by her near- 
ness to him, and still more by her remoteness. 

Allured and baffled, often in the early morning or late 
evening he would sit in the doorway of his cabin, or out 
on his rock with his flute, when his thoughts were full 
of her. Simple, maidenly, and strong, his heart yearned 
toward her, while instinctively she held herself aloof in 
quiet dignity. Never had she presented herself at his 
door unless impelled by necessity. Never had she sat 
with him in his cabin since that first time when she came 
to him so heavy hearted for Frale. 

Only when she knew him to be absent had she gone to 
his cabin and set all its disorder to rights. Then he would 
return to find it swept and cleaned, and sweet with wild 
flowers and pine greenery and vines, his cooking utensils 
washed and scoured, the floor whitened with scrubbing, 
in his larder newly baked corn-bread and white beaten 
biscuits, his honey jar refilled and fresh butter pats in 
the spring. Sometimes a brown, earthen jug of cool, 
refreshing buttermilk stood on his table, but always his 
thanks would be swept aside with the words : — 

"Mother sent me up to see could I do anything for you. 
You are always that kind and we can't do much." 

"And you never come up when I am at home ? " 

"It isn't every time I can get to go up, I'm that busy 
here most days." 

"Only the days when I am absent can you *get to go 
up'.^^" he would say teasingly. "Don't I ever deserve 
a visit ?" 

"Cass don't get time fer visitin' these days. Since 
Frale lef she have all his work an' hern too on her, an' 
mine too, only the leetle help she gets out'n Hoyle, an' 
hit hain't much," said the mother. "Doctah, don't ye 
guess I can get up an' try walkin' a leetle ? " 

"If you will promise me you will only try it when I am 
here to help you, I will take off the weight, and we'll see 
what you can do to-day." 

Cassandra loved to watch David attend on her mother, 
so tender was he ; and he adopted a playful manner that 
always dispelled her pessimism and left her smiling and 
talkative. Ere he was aware, also, he made a place for 



Cassandra tells of her Father 105 

himself in Cassandra's heart when he became interested 
in the case of her Httle brother, and attempted gradually 
to overcome his deformity. 

Every morning when the child climbed to his eyrie and 
brought his supply of milk, David took him in and gently, 
out of his knowledge and skill, gave him systematic care, 
and taught him how to help himself; but he soon saw 
that a more strenuous course would be the only way to 
bring permanent relief, or surely the trouble would in- 
crease. 

'*What did Doctor Hoyle say about it?" he asked one 
day. 

"He wa'n't that-a-way when doctah war here last. 
Hit war nigh on five year ago that come on him. He had 
fevah, an' a right smart o' times when we thought he war 
a-gettin' bettah he jes' went back, ontwell he began to 
kind o' draw sideways this-a-way, an' he hain't nevah 
been straight sence, an' he has been that sickly, too. 
When doctah saw him last, he war nigh three year old 
an' straight as they make 'em, an' fat — you couldn't 
see a bone in him." 

David pondered a moment. "Suppose you give him 
to me awhile," he said. "Let him live with me in my 
cabin — eat there, sleep there — everything, and we'll 
see what can be done for him." 

"I'm wnllin', more'n willin', when only I can get to help 
Cass some. Hoyle, he's a heap o' help, with me not able 
to do a lick. He can milk nigh as well as she can, an' tote 
in water, an' feed the chick'ns an' th' pig, an' rid'n' to 
mill fer meal — yas, he's a heap o' help. Cass, she got to 
get on with th' weavin'. We promised bed kivers an' such 
fer INIiss INIayhew. She sells 'em fer ladies 'at comes to 
the hotel in summah. We nevah would have a cent o' 
money in hand these days 'thout that, only what chick'ns 
'nd aigs she can raise fer the hotel, too. Hit's only in 
summah. I don't rightly see how we can spare Hoyle." 

"\Miere's Miss Cassandra now?" he asked, onlv more 
determined on his course the more he was hampered by 
circumstances. 

"She's in the loom shed weavin'. I throwed on the 
warp fer a blue and white bed kiver 'fore I war hurt, an' 
she hain't had time to more'n half finish hit. I war helpin* 



106 The Mountain Girl 

to get the weavin' done whilst she war at school this winter, 
an' come spring she war 'lowin' to come back an' help 
Frale with the plantin' an' makin' crap fer next year. 
Here in the mountains we-uns have to be forehanded, an' 
here I be an' can't crawl scarcely yet." 

After the thrifty soul had taken a few steps, instead of 
realizing her good fortune in being able to take any, she 
was bitterly disappointed to find that weeks must still 
pass ere she could walk by herself. She was seated on 
her little porch where David had helped her, looking out 
on the growing things and the blossoming spring all about 
— a sight to make the heart glad ; but she saw only that 
the time was passing, and it would soon be too late to make 
a crop that year. 

She was such a neat, self-respecting old woman as she 
sat there. Her work-worn old hands were not idle, for 
she turned and mended Hoyle's funny little trousers, 
home-made, with suspenders attached. 

"I don't know what-all we can do ef we can't make a 
crap. We won't have no corn nor nothin', an' nothin' to 
feed stock, let alone we-uns. We'll be in a fix just like 
all the poor white trash, me not able to do a lick." 
. David came and sat beside her a few moments and said 
a great many comforting things, and when he rose to go 
the world had taken on a new aspect for her eyes — bright, 
dark eyes, looking up at him with a gleam of hope. 

"I believe ye," she said. "We'll do anything you say, 
Doctah." 

Thryng walked out past the loom shed and paused to 
look in on the young girl as she sat swaying rhythmically, 
throwing the shuttles with a sweep of her arm, and draw- 
ing the great beam toward her with steady beat, driving 
the threads in place, and shifting the veil of warp stretched 
before her with a sure touch of her feet upon the treadles, 
all her lithe body intent and atune. It seemed to him as 
he sat himself on the step to watch, that music must come 
from the flow of her action. The noise of the loom pre- 
vented her hearing his approach, and silently he watched 
and waited, fascinated in seeing the fabric grow under 
her hand. 

As silently she worked on, and slowly, even as the pat- 
tern took shape and became plain before her, his thoughts 




4^\ 



It see7ned to hint that 
nut sic must come fro/n the 
floiv of he7' action. Page \ 06. 



^ 



Cassandra tells of her Father 107 

grew and took definite shape also, until he became filled 
with a set purpose. He would not disturb her now nor 
make her look around. It was enough just to watch her 
in her sweet serious unconsciousness, with the flush of 
exercise on her cheeks as he could see when she slightly 
turned her head with every throw of the shuttle. 

When at last she rose, he saw a look of care and weari- 
ness on her face that disturbed him. He sprang up and 
came to her. She little dreamed how long he had been 
there. 

"Please don't go. Stay here and talk to me a moment. 
Your mother is all right ; I have just been with her. May 
I examine what you have been doing ? It is very interest- 
ing to me, you know." He made her show him all the 
manner of her work and drew her on to tell him of the 
different patterns her mother had learned from her grand- 
mother and had taught her. 

"They don't do much on the hand-looms now in the 
mountains, but Miss Mayhew at the hotel last summer 
— I told you about her — sold some of mother's work 
up North, and I promised more, but I'm afraid — I don't 
guess I can get it all done now." 

"You are tired. Sit here on the step awhile with me 
and rest. I want to talk to you a little, and I want 
you alone." She looked hesitatingly toward the declin- 
ing sun. He took her hand and led her to the door. 
" Can't you give me a few, a very few moments ? You 
hold me off and won't let me say what I often have in 
mind to ask you." She sat beside him where he placed 
her and looked wonderingly into his face, but not in the 
least as if she feared what his question might be, or as if 
she suspected anything personal. "You know it's not 
right that this sort of thing should go on indefinitely?'* 

"I don't know what sort of thing you mean." She 
lifted grave, wide eyes to his — those clear gray eyes — 
and his heart admonished him that he had begun to love 
to look into their blue and green depths, but heed the 
admonishment he would not. 

"I mean working day in and day out, as you do. You 
have grown much thinner since I saw you first, and look 
at your hands." He took one of them in his and gently 
stroked it. "See how thin they are, and here are callous 



108 The Mountain Girl 

places. And you are stooping over with weariness, and, 
except when you have been exercising, your face is far 
too white." 

She looked off toward the mountain top and slowly 
drew her hand from his. "I must do it. There is no one 
else," she said in a low voice. 

"But it can't go on always — this way." 

" I reckon so. Once I thought — it might — be some 
different, but now — " She waited an instant in silence. 

"But now — what .^" 

"It seems as if it must go on — like this way — always, 
as if I were chained here with iron." 

"But why? Won't you tell me so I may help you?" 

"I can't," she said sadly and with finality. "It must 
be." 

He brooded a moment, clasping his hands about one 
knee and gazing at her. "Maybe," he said at last, 
"maybe I can help you, even if you can't tell me what is 
holding you." 

She smiled a faintly fleeting smile. "Thank you — 
but I reckon not." 

"Miss Cassandra, when you know I am at your service, 
and will do anything you ask of me, why do you 
hold something back from me ? I can understand, and 
I may have ways — " 

"It's just that, suh. Even if I could tell you, I don't 
guess you could understand. Even if I went yonder 
on the mountain and cried to heaven to set me free, I'd 
have to bide here and do the work that is mine to do, as 
mother has done hers, and her mother before her." 

"But they did it contentedly and happily — because 
they wished it. Your mother married your father be- 
cause she loved him, and was glad — " 

"Yes, I reckon she did — but he was different. She 
could do it for him. He lived alone — alone. Mother 
knew he did — she could understand. It was like he 
had a room to himself high up on the mountain, where 
she never could climb, nor open the door." 

David leaned toward her. "What do you see when 
you look off at the mountain like that ? " 

" It's like I could see him. He would take his little books 
up there and walk the high path. I never have showed 



Cassandra tells of her Father 109 

you his path. It was his, and he would walk in it, up and 
down, up and down, and read words I couldn't understand, 
reading Hke he was singing. Sometimes I would climb 
up to him, and he'd take me in his arms and carry me like 
I was a baby, and read. Sometimes he would sit on a 
bank of moss under those trees — see near the top by that 
open spot of sky a right dark place ? There are no other 
trees like them. They are his trees. He would sit with 
me there and tell me the stories of the strange words ; 
but we never told mother, for she said they were heathen 
and I mustn't give heed to him." When deeply absorbed, 
she often lapsed into her old speech. David liked it. 
He almost wished she would never change it for his. 
"After father died I hunted and hunted for those little 
books, but I never could find them." 

" You remember him so well, won't you tell me how he 
looked ? " 

She slowly brought her eyes down from the mountain 
top and fixed them on his face. "Sometimes — just for 
a minute — you make me think of him — but you don't 
look like him. I never heard any one laugh like he could 
laugh — and with his eyes, too. He was tall like you, and 
he carried his shoulders high like you do when you hurry, 
but he was a dark man. \Mien he stood here in the door 
of the loom shed, his head touched the top. I thought of 
it when you stood here a bit ago and had to stoop. He 
always did that." She lifted her gaze again to the moun- 
tain, and was silent. 

"Tell me a little more .^ Just a little.^ Don't you 
remember anything he said.'^" 

"He used to preach, but I was too little to remember 
what he said. They used to have preaching in the school- 
house, and in winter he used to teach there — when he 
could get the children to come. They had no books, but 
he marked with charcoal where they could all see, and 
showed them writing and figures ; but somehow they got 
the idea he didn't know religion right, and they wouldn't 
go to hear him any more. Mother says it nigh broke 
his heart, for he fell to ailing and grew that thin and white 
he couldn't climb to his path any more." She stopped 
and put her hand to her throat, as her way was. She 
too had grown white with the ache of sorrowful remem- 



110 The Mountain Girl 

brance. He thought it cruel to urge her, but felt impelled 
to ask for more. 

"And then?" 

"Yes. One day we were all alone sitting right here in 
the loom shed door. He put one hand on my head, and 
then he put the other hand under my chin and turned 
my face to look in his eyes — so great and far — like they 
could see through your heart. Seems like I can feel the 
touch of his hand here yet and hear him say: 'Little 
daughter, never be like the rest. Be separate, and God 
will send for you some day here on the mountain. He 
will send for you on the mountain top. He will compass 
you about and lift you up and you shall be blessed.* Then 
he kissed me and went into the house. I could hear him 
still saying it as he walked, * On the mountain top one will 
come for you, on the mountain top.' He went in and lay 
down, and I sat here and waited. It seemed like my 
heart stood still waiting for him to come back to me, and 
it must have been more than an hour I sat, and mother 
came home and went in and found him gone. He never 
spoke again. He lay there dead." 

She paused and drew in a long, sighing breath. "I 
have never said those words aloud until now, to you, but 
hundreds of times when I look up on the mountain I have 
said them in my heart. I reckon he meant I was to bide 
here until my time was come, and do all like I ought to do 
it. I did think I could go to school and learn and come 
back and teach like he used to, a^id so keep myself separate 
like he did, but the Lord called me back and laid a hard 
thing on me, and I must do it. But in my heart I can 
keep separate like father did." 

She rose and stood calmly, her eyes fixed on the moun- 
tain. David stood near and longed to touch her passive 
hand — to lift it to his lips — but forebore to startle her 
soul by so unusual an act. For all she had given him a 
confidence she had never bestowed on another, he felt 
himself held aloof, her spirit withdrawn from him and lifted 
to the mountain top. 



CHAPTER Xn 

IN WHICH CASSANDRA HEARS THE VOICES, AND DAVID 

LEASES A FARM 

That evening David sat long on his rock holding his 
flute and watching the thin golden crescent of the new 
moon floating through a pale amber sky, and one star 
near its tip slowly sliding down with it toward the deepen- 
ing horizon. 

The glowing sky bending to the purple hilltops — the 
crescent moon and the lone shining star — the evening 
breeze singing in the pines above him — the delicate arbu- 
tus blossoms hiding near his feet — the call of a bird to 
its mate, and the faint answering call from some distant 
shade — the call in his own heart that as yet returned to 
him unanswered, but with its quiet surety of ultimate 
response — the joy of these moments perfect in beauty 
and a more abundant assurance of gladness near at hand — 
filled him and lifted his soul to follow the star. 

Guided by the unseen hand that held the earth, the 
crescent moon and the star to their orbits, would he find 
the great happiness that should be not his alone, but also 
for the eyes uplifted to the mountain top and the heart 
waiting in the shadows for the one to be sent ? Ah, surely, 
surely, for this had he come. He stooped to the arbutus 
blossoms to inhale their fragrance. He rose and, lifting 
his flute to his lips, played to solace his own waiting, in- 
venting new caprices and tossing forth the notes daringly — 
delicately — rapturously — now penetrating and strong, 
now faintly following and scarcely heard, uttering a word- 
less gladness. 

Under the great holly tree in the shadows Cassandra 
sat, watching, as he watched, the crescent moon and the 
lone star sailing in the pale amber light, with the deepen- 
ing purple mountain hiding the dim distance below them. 
Often in the early evening when her mother and Hoyle 
were sleeping, she would climb up here to pray for Frale 
that he might truly repent, and for herself that she might 

111 



112 The Mountain Girl 

be strong in her purpose to give up all her cherished hopes 
and plans, if thereby she might save him from his own 
wild, reckless self. 

It was here his boy's passion had been revealed to her, 
and here she had seen him changed from boy to man, 
filled with a man's hunger for her, which had led him to 
crime, and held him unrepentant and glad could he thus 
hold her his own. She must give up the life she had hoped 
to lead and take upon her the life of the wife of Cain, to 
help him expiate his deed. For this must she bow her 
head to the yoke her mother had borne before her. In 
the sadness of her heart she said again and again: "Christ 
will understand. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted 
with grief ! He will understand." 

Again came to her, as they had often come of late, 
dropping down through the still air, down through the 
leafless boughs like joyful hopes yet to be realized, the 
flute notes. What were they, those sweet sounds ? She 
held her breath and lifted her face toward the sky. Once, 
long ago in France, the peasant girl had heard the "Voices." 
Were they heavenly sw^eet, like these sounds ? Did they 
drop from the sky and fill the air like these ? Oh, why 
should they seem like hopes to her who had put away from 
her all hope ? Were they bringing hope to her who must 
rise to toil and lie down in weariness for labor never done ; 
who must hold always with sorrowing heart and clinging 
hands to the soul of a murderer — hold and cling, if haply 
she might save — and weep for that which, for her, might 
never be ? Were they bringing hope that she might yet 
live gladly as the birds live ; that she might go beyond that 
and live like those who have no sin imposed on them, to 
walk with the gods, she knew not how, but to rise to things 
beyond her ken ? 

Down came the notes, sweet, shrill, white notes, — 
hurrying, drifting, lingering, calling her to follow ; down on 
her heart with healing and comfort they fell, lightly as 
dew on flowers, sparkling with life, joy-giving and pure. 

Slowly she began climbing, listening, waiting, one step 
upward after another, following the sound. As if in a 
trance she moved. Below her the noise of falling water 
made a murmuring accompaniment to the music dropping 
from above — an earth-made accompaniment to heaven- 



The Voices 113 

sent melody, meeting and forming a perfect harmony in 
her heart as she climbed. Gradually the horror and the 
sorrow fell away from her even, as the soul shall one day 
shed its garment of earth, until at last she stood alone and 
silent near David, etherealized in the faint light to a spirit- 
like semblance of a woman. 

With a glad pounding of his heart he sprang towards 
her. Scarcely conscious of the act he held out both his 
arms, but she did not move. She stood silently regarding 
him, her hands dropped at her side, then with drooping 
head she turned and began wearily to descend the way she 
had come. He followed her and took her hand. She let it 
lie passively in his and walked on. He wished he might 
feel her fingers close warmly about his own, but no, they 
were cold. She seemed wholly withdrawn from him, and 
her face bore the look of one w^ho was walking in her sleep, 
yet he knew her to be awake. 

"Miss Cassandra, speak to me," he begged, in quiet 
tones. "Don't walk away until you tell me why you 
came." 

She seemed then to become aware that he was holding 
her by the hand and withdrew it, and in the faint light he 
thought she smiled. "It was just foolishness. You will 
laugh at me. I heard the music, and I thought it might 
be — you made it I reckon, but down there it sounded like 
it might be the 'Voices.' You remember how they came 
to Joan of x\rc, like we were reading last week ? " She 
began to walk on more hurriedly. 

"I will go down with you," he said, "you thought it 
might be the voices ? What did they say to you ? ". 

"Oh, don't go with me. I never heed the dark." 

"Won't you let me go with you? W'hat did the flute 
say to you ? Can't you tell me ? " 

She laughed a little then. "It was only foolishness. I 
reckon the 'Voices' never come these days. I have heard 
it before, but didn't know where it came from. It just 
seemed to drop down from heaven like, and this time it 
seemed some different, as if it might be the 'Voices ' calling. 
It was pretty, suh, far away and soft — like part — of 
everything. My father's playing sounded sad most times, 
like sweet crying, but this was more like sweet laughing. 
I never heard anything so glad like this was, so I tried to 



114 The Mountain Girl 

find It. Now I know it is you who make it I won't dis- 
turb you again, suh. Good evening." She hastened 
away and was soon lost in the gloom. 

David stood until he heard her footsteps no more, then 
turned and entered his cabin, his mind and heart full of her. 
Surely he had called her, and the sound of his call was to 
her like *' sweet laughing." Her face and her quaint ex- 
pressions went with him into his dreams. 

When he hurried down to the widow's place next 
morning, his mind filled with plans which he meant to 
carry out and was sure, with the boyish certainty of his 
nature he could compass, he heard the voice of little 
Hoyle shrilly calling to old Pete: "Whoa, mule. Haw 
there. Haw there, mule. What ye goin' that side fer ; 
come 'round here." 

Below the widow's house, the stream, after its riotous 
descent from the fall, meandered quietly through the rich 
bit of meadow and field, her inheritance for over a hundred 
years, establishing her claim to distinction among her 
neighbors. Here Martha Caswell had lived with her 
mother and her two brothers until she married and went 
with her young husband over "t'other side Pisgah"; 
then her mother sent for them to return, begging her son-in- 
law to come and care for the place. Her two sons, reck- 
less and wild, were allowing the land to run to waste, and 
the buildings to fall in pieces through neglect. 

The daughter Martha, true to her name, was thrifty 
and careful, and under her influence, her gentle dreamer of a 
husband, who cared more for his fiddle, his books, and his 
sermons, gradually redeemed the soil from w^eeds and the 
buildings from dilapidation, until at last, with the proceeds 
of her weaving and his own hard labor, they saved enough 
to buy out the brothers' interests. 

By that time the younger son had fallen a victim to his 
wild life, and the other moved down into the low country 
among his wife's people. Thus were the Merlins left alone 
on their primitive estate. Here they lived contentedly 
with Cassandra, their only child, and her father's constant 
companion, until the tragedy which she had so simply 
related to David. 

Her father's learning had been peculiar. Only a little 
classic lore, treasured where schools were none and books 



The Voices 115 

were few, handed down from grandfather to grandson. 
His Greek he had learned from the two small books the 
widow had so carefully preserved, their marginal notes 
his only lexicon. They and his Bible and a copy of 
Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress were all that were left of his 
treasures. A teething puppy had torn his Dialogues of 
Plato to shreds, and when his successor had come into the 
home, he had used the Marcus Aurelius for gun wadding, 
ere his wife's precaution of placing the padlock from the 
door on her mother's old linen chest. 

To-day, as David passed the house, the old mother sat 
on her little p(5rch churning butter in a small dasher churn. 
She was glad, as he could see, because she could do some- 
thing once more. 

"Now are you happy?" he called laughingly, as he 
paused beside her. 

"Well, I be. Hit's been a right smart o' while since I 
been able to do a lick o' work. We sure do have a heap 
to thank you fer. Be Decatur Irwin as glad to lose his 
foot as I be to git my laig back ? " she queried whimsically ; 
**I reckon not." 

"I reckon not, too, but with him it was a case of losing 
his life or his foot, while with you it was only a question 
of walking about, or being bedridden for the next twenty 
years." 

"They be ignorant, them Irwins, an' she's more'n that, 
fer she's a fool. She come round yest'day wantin' to 
borry a hoe to fix up her gyarden patch, an' she 'lowed ef 
you'n Cass had only lef ' him be, he'd 'a' come through all 
right, fer hit war a-gettin' better the day you-uns took hit 
off. I told her yas, he'd 'a' come cl'ar through to the nex' 
world, like Farwell done. When the misery left him, he 
up an' died, an' Lord knows whar he went." 

"I'll get him an artificial foot as soon as he is able 
to wear one. He'll get on very well with a peg under 
his knee until then. \\Tiat's Hoyle doing with the 
mule?'' 

"He's rid'n' him fer Cass. She's tryin' to get the ground 
ready fer a crap. Hit's all we can do. Our women nevah 
war used to do such work neither, but she would try." 

"What's that? Is she ploughing?" he asked sharply, 
and strode away. 



116 The Mountain Girl 

"I reckon she don't want ye there, Doctah," the widow 
called after him, but he walked on. 

The land lay in a warto hollow completely surrounded 
by hills. It had been many years cleared, and the mellow 
soil was free from stumps and roots. When Thryng ar- 
rived, three furrows had been run rather crookedly the 
length of the patch, and Cassandra stood surveying them 
ruefully, flushed and troubled, holding to the handles of 
the small plough and struggling to set it straight for the 
next furrow. 

The noise of the fall behind them covered his approach, 
and ere she was aware he was at her side. Placing his 
two hands over hers which clung stubbornly to the handles 
of the plough, he possessed himself of them. Laughingly 
he turned her about after the short tussle, and looked 
down into her warm, flushed face. Still holding her hands, 
he pulled her away from the plough to the grassy edge of 
the field, leaving Hoyle waiting astride the mule. 

"Whoa, mule. Stand still thar," he shrilled, as the 
beast sought to cross the bit of ploughed ground to reach 
the grass beyond. 

"Let him eat a minute, Hoyle," said David. "Let him 
eat until I come. Now, Miss Cassandra, what does this 
mean ? Do you think you can plough all that land ? Is 
that it?" 

"I must." 
'You must not." 

"There is no one else now. I must." He could feel 
her hands quiver in his, as he forcibly held them, and knew 
from her panting breath how her heart was beating. She 
held her head high, nevertheless, and looked bravely 
back into his eyes. 

"You must let me — " he paused. Intuitively he knew 
he must not say as yet what he would. "Let me direct 
you a little. You have been most kind to me — and — 
it is my place ; I am a doctor, you know." 

"If I were sick or hurt, I would give heed to you, I 
would do anything you say ; but I'm not, and this is laid 
on me to do. Leave go my hands. Doctor Thryng." 

"If you'll sit down here a moment and talk this thing 
out with me, I will. Now tell me first of all, why is this 
laid on you?" 



id 



The Voices 117 

"Frale is gone and it must be done, or we will have no 
crop, and then we must sell the animals, and then go down 
and live like poor white trash." Her low, passive mono- 
tone sounded like a moan of sorrow. 

"You must hire some one to do this heavy work.** 

** Every one is working his own patch now, and — no, 
I have no money to hire with. I reckon I've thought it 
all over every way. Doctor." She looked sadly down at 
her hands and then up at the mountain top. "I know you 
think this is no work for a girl to do, and you are right. 
Our women never have done such. Only in the war times 
my Grandmother Caswell did it, and I can now. A girl 
can do what she must. I have no way to turn but to live 
as my people have lived before me. I thought once I 
might do different, go to school and keep separate — 
but — " She spread out her hands with a hopeless ges- 
ture, and rose to resume her work. 

"Give me a moment longer. I'm not through yet. 
That's right, now listen. I see the truth of what you 
say, and I came down this morning to make a proposition 
to your mother — not for your sake only — don't be afraid, 
for my own as well ; but I didn't make it because I hadn't 
time. She told me what you were doing, and I hurried 
off to stop you. Don't speak yet, let me finish. I feel 
I have the right, because I know — I know I was sent here 
just now for a purpose — guided to come here." ^ He 
paused to allow his words to have their full weight. 
Whether she would perceive his meaning remained to be 
seen. 

"I understand." She spoke quietly. "Doctor Hoyle 
sent you to be helped like he was — and you have been 
right kind to more than us. You've helped that- many it 
seems like you were sent here for we-all as well as for your 
own sake, but that can't help me now. Doctor ; it — " 

"Ah, yes it can. I'm far from well yet. I shall be, but 
I must stay on for a long time, and I want some interest 
here. I want to see things of my own growing. The 
ground up around my little cabin is stony and very poor, 
and I want to rent this little farm of yours. Listen — 
I'll pay enough so you need not sell your cattle, and you 
— you can go on with your weaving. You can work in 
the house again as you have always done. Sometime, 



118 The Mountain Girl 

when your mother is stronger, you can take up your life 
again and go to school — as you meant to live — can't 

you?" 

*'That can never be now. If you take the farm or not, I 
must bide on here in the old way. I must take up the 
life my mother lived and my grandmother, and hers before 
her. It is mine, forever, to live it that way — or die." 

" Why do you talk so ? " 

"God knows, but I can't tell you. Thank you, suh. I 
will be right glad to rent you the farm. I'd a heap rather 
you had it than any one else I ever knew, for we care more 
for it than you would guess, but for the rest — no. I 
must bide and work till I die ; only maybe I c^n save little 
Hoyle and give him a chance to learn something, for he 
never could work — being like he is." 

Thryng's eyes danced with joy as he regarded her. 
"Hoyle is not going to be always as he is, and he shall have 
the chance to learn something also. Look up, Miss 
Cassandra, look squarely into my eyes and laugh. Be 
happy. Miss Cassandra, and laugh. I say it." 

She laughed softly then. She could not help it. 

"Wasn't that what the * Voices' were saying last night 
when you followed ? " 

"Yes, yes. They seemed like they were calling, *Hope, 
hope,' but they were not the real * Voices.' You made it." 

"Yes, I made it; and I was truly calling that to you. 
And you replied ; you came to me." 

"Ah, but that is different from the * Voices' she heard." 
But if they called the truth to you — what then ? " 
Doctah, there is no longer any hope for me. God 
called me and let me cut off all hope, once. I did it, and 
now, only death can change it." 

"If I believe you, you must believe me. W^e won't 
talk of it any more. I'm hungry. Your mother was 
churning up there ; let's go and get some buttermilk, and 
settle the business of the rent. You've run three good 
furrows and I'll run three more beside them — my first, 
remember, in all my life. Then we'll plant that strip to 
sunflowers. Come, Hoyle, tie the mule and follow us." 

So David carried his way. They walked merrily back 
to the house, chattering of his plans and what he would 
raise. He knew nothing whatever of the sort of crops to 






The Voices 119 

be raised, and she was naively gay at his expense, a mood 
he was overjoyed to awaken in her. He vowed that merely 
to walk over ploughed ground made a man stronger.^ 

On the porch he sat and drank his buttermilk and, 
placing his paper on the step, drew up a contract for rent. 
Then Cassandra went to her weaving, and he and Hoyle 
returned to the field, where with much labor he succeeded 
in turning three furrows beside Cassandra's, rather crooked 
and uncertain ones, it is true, but quite as good as hers, as 
Hoyle reluctantly admitted, which served to give David 
a higher respect for farmers in general and ploughmen 
especially. 



CHAPTER XIII 

IN WHICH DAVID DISCOVERS CASSANDRA's TROUBLE 

After turning his furrows, David told Hoyle to ride 
the mule to the stable, then he sat himself on the fence, 
and meditated. He bethought him that in the paper he 
had drawn up he had made no provision for the use of the 
mule. He wiped his forehead and rubbed the perspira- 
tion from his hair, and coughed a little after his exertion, 
glad at heart to find himself so well off. 

He would come and plough a little every day. Then he 
began to calculate the number of days it would take him 
to finish the patch, measuring the distance covered by the 
six furrows with his eye, and comparing it with the 
whole. He laughed to find that, at the rate of six furrows 
a day, the task would take him well on into the summer. 
Plainly he must find a ploughman. 

Then the laying out of the ground ! Why should he 
not have a vineyard up on the farther hill slope .^ He 
never could have any fruit from it, but what of that ! 
Even if he went away and never returned, he would know 
it to be adding its beauty to this wonderful dream. Who 
could know what the future held for him — what this 
little spot might mean to him in the days to come ^ That 
he would go out, fully recovered and strong to play his part 
in life, he never doubted. Might not this idyl be a part of 
it ? He thought of the girl sitting at her loom, swaying 
as she threw her shuttle with the rhythm of a poem, and 
weaving — weaving his life and his heart into her web, 
unknown to herself — weaving a thread of joy through 
it all which as yet she could not see. He knocked the 
ashes from his pipe and stood a moment gazing about 
him. 

Yes, he really must have a vineyard, and a bit of pasture 
somewhere, and a field of clover. What grew best there 
he little knew, so he decided to go up and consult the 
widow. 

There were other things also to claim his thoughts. 

120 



Cassandra's Trouble 121 

Over toward "Wild Cat Hole" there was a woman who 
needed his care ; and he must not become so absorbed in 
his pastoral romance as to forset Hoyle. He was looking 
actually haggard these last few days, and his mother said 
he would not eat. It might be that he needed more than 
the casual care he was giving him. Possibly he could take 
him to Doctor Hoyle's hospital for radical treatment later 
in the season, when his crops were well started. He smiled 
as he thought of his crops, then laughed outright, and 
strolled back to the house, weary and hungry, and happy 
as a boy. 

"Well, now, I like the look of ye," called the old mother 
from the porch, where she still sat. '"Pears like it's done 
ye good a-ready to turn planter. The' hain't nothin* 
better'n the smell o' new sile fer them 'at's consumpted." 

"Mother," cried Cassandra from within, "don't call 
the doctor that ! Come up and have dinner with us. 
Doctor." She set a chair for him as she spoke, but he 
would not. As he stood below them, looking up and ex- 
changing merry banter with her mother, he laughed his 
contagious laugh. 

"I bet he's tired," shrilled Hoyle, from his perch on the 
porch roof. "He be'n settin' on the fence smokin' an' 
rubbin' his hade with his handkercher like he'd had enough 
with his ploughin'. You can nigh about beat him, Cass. 
Hisn didn't look no better'n what yourn looked." 

"Here, you young rascal you, come down from there," 
cried David. Catching him by the foot, which hung far 
enough over to be within reach of his long arm, he pulled 
him headlong from his high position and caught him in 
mid-air. "Now, how shall I punish you .^^ " 

"Ye bettah whollop him. He hain't nevah been 
switched good in his hull life. Maybe that's what ails 
him." 

The child grinned. "I hain't afeared. Get me down 
on the ground oncet, an' I c'n run faster'n he can." 

"Suppose I duck him in the water trough yonder.^" 

"I reckon he needs it. He generally do," smiled Cas- 
sandra from the doorway. "Come, son, go wash up." 
David allowed the child to slip to the ground. "Seems 
like Hoyle is right enough about you, though. Don't go 
away up the hill ; bide here and have dinner first." 



122 The Mountain Girl 

David dropped on the step for a moment's rest. **I 
see I must make a way up to my cabin that will not pass 
your door. How about that .^ Was dinner included in 
the rent, and the mule and the mule's dinner ? And what 
is Hoyle going to pay me for allowing him to ride Pete up 
and down while I plough.^" 

"Yas, an' what are ye goin' to give him fer 'lowin' ye 
to set his hade round straight, an' what are ye goin' to 
give me fer 'lowin' ye to set me on my laigs again ? Ef ye 
go a-countin' that-a-way, I'm 'feared ye're layin' up a 
right smart o' debt to we-uns. I reckon you'll use that 
mule all ye want to, an' ye'll lick him good, too, when he 
needs hit, an' take keer o' yourself, fer he's a mean critter; 
an' ye'll keep that path right whar hit is, fer hit goes 
with the farm long's you bide up yandah." 

"You good people have the best of me; we'll call it all 
even. Ever since I leaped off that train in the snow, I 
have been dependent on you for my comfort. Well, I 
must hurry on ; since I've turned farmer I'm a busy man. 
Can you suggest any one I might get to do that ploughing? 
Miss Cassandra here may be able to do it without help, 
but I confess I'm not equal to it." 

*'I be'n tellin' Cass that thar Elwine Timms, he ought 
to be able to do the hull o' that work. Widow Timmses' 
son. They live ovah nigh the Gerret place thar at Lone 
Pine Creek. He used to help Frale with the still. An' 
then thar's Hoke Belew — he ought to do sumthin' fer 
all you done fer his wife — sittin' up the hull night long, 
an' gettin' up at midnight to run to them. Oh, I hearn a 
heap sittin' here. Things comes to me that-a-way. 
Thar hain't much goin' on within twenty mile o' here 
'at I don't know. They is plenty hereabouts owes you a 
heap." 

"I think I've been treated very well. They keep me 
supplied with all I need. What more can a man ask ? 
The other day, a man brought me a sack of corn meal, 
fresh and sweet from the mill — a man with six children 
and a sick mother to feed, but what could I do ? He 
would leave it, and I — well, I — " 

"When they bring ye things, you take 'em. Ye'll help 
'em a heap more that-a-way 'n ye will curin' 'em. The' 
hain't nothin' so good fer a man as payin' his debts. Hit 



Cassandra's Trouble 1£S 

keeps his hade up whar a man 'at's good fer anything 
ought to keep hit. I hearn a heap o' talk here in these 
mountains 'bouts bein' stuck up, but I tell 'em if a body 
feels he hain't good fer nothin', he pretty generally hain't. 
He'd a heap better feel stuck up to my thinkin'." 

"They've done pretty well, all who could. They've 
brought me everything from corn whiskey to fodder for 
my horse. A woman brought me a bag of dried blueberries 
the other day. I don't know what to do with them. I 
have to take them, for I can't be graceless enough to send 
them away with their gifts." 

"You bring 'em here, an' Cass'U make ye a blueberry 
cake to eat hot with butter melt'n' on hit 'at'll make ye 
think the world's a good place to live in." 

"I'll do it," he said, laughing, and took his solitary path 
up the steep. Halfway to his cabin, he heard quick, 
scrambling steps behind him, and, turning, saw little 
Hoyle bringing Cassandra's small melon-shaped basket, 
covered with a white cloth. 

"I said I could run faster'n you could. Cass, she sont 
some th' chick'n fry." He thrust the basket at Thryng 
and turned to run home. 

"Here, here !" David called after the twisted, hunched 
little figure. "You tell your sister 'thank you very much,' 
for me. Will you?" 

"Yas, suh," and the queer little gnome disappeared 
among the laurel below. 

In the morning, David found the place of the Widow 
Timms, and her son agreed to come down the next day and 
accept wages for work. A weary, spiritless young man he 
was, and the home as poverty-stricken as was that of 
Decatur Irwin, and with almost as many children. It 
was with a feeling of depression that David rode on after 
his call, leaving the grandmother seated in the doorway, 
snuff stick between her yellow teeth, the grandchildren 
clustering about her knees, or squatting in the dirt, like 
young savages. Their father lounged in the wretched 
cabin, hardly to be seen in the windowless, smoke-black- 
ened space nearly filled with beds heaped with ragged 
bedclothes, and broken splint-bottomed chairs hung about 
with torn and soiled garments. 

The dirt and disorder irritated David, and he felt 



124 The Mountain Girl 

angered at the clay-faced son for not being out preparing 
his little patch of ground. Fortunately, he had been able 
to conceal his annoyance enough to secure the man's prom- 
ise to begin work next day, or he would have gained 
nothing but the family's resentment for his pains. Al- 
ready David had learned that a sort of resentful pride was 
the last shred of respectability to which the poorest and 
most thriftless of the mountain people clung — pride of 
he knew not what, and resentfulness toward any who, by 
thrift and labor, were better off than themselves. 

He reasoned that as the young man had been Frale's 
helper at the still, no doubt corn whiskey was at the 
bottom of their misery. This brought his mind to the 
thought of Frale himself. The young man had not been 
mentioned between him and Cassandra since the day she 
sought his help. He thought he could not be far from the 
still, as he forded Lone Pine Creek, on his way to the home 
of Hoke Belew, whose wife he was going to see. 

David was interested in this young family ; they seemed 
to him to be quite of the better sort, and as he put space 
between himself and the Widow Timms' deplorable state, 
his irritation gradually passed, and he was able to take note 
of the changes a week had wrought in the growing things 
about him. 

More than once he diverged to investigate blossoming 
shrubs which were new to him, attracted now by a sweet 
odor where no flowers appeared, until closer inspection 
revealed them, and now by a blaze of color against the 
dark background of laurel leaves and gray rocks. Ah, 
the flaming azalea had made its appearance at last, huge 
clusters of brilliant bloom on leafless shrubs. How daz- 
zlingly gay ! 

In the midst of his observance of things about him, and 
underneath his surface thoughts, he carried with him a 
continual feeling of satisfaction in the remembrance of 
the little farm below the Fall Place, and in an amused way 
planned about it, and built idly his "Castles in Spain." 
A bit of stone wall whose lower end was overgrown with 
vines pleased him especially, and a few enormous trees, 
which had been left standing when the spot had been 
originally cleared, and the vine-entangled, drooping 
trees along the banks of the small river that coursed 



Cassandra's Trouble 125 

crookedly through it, — what possibilities it all presented 
to his imagination ! If only he could find the right man to 
carry out his ideas for him, he would lease the place 
for fifty years for the privilege of doing as he would 
with it. 

After a time he came out upon the cleared farm of 
Hoke Belew, who was industriously ploughing his field for 
cotton, and called out to him, "How's the wife?'* 

"She hain't not to say right smart, an' the baby don't 
act like he's w^ell, neither, suh. Ride on to th' house an* 
hght. She's thar, an' I'll be up d'rectly." 

Thryng rode on and dismounted, tying his horse to a 
sapling near the door. The place was an old one. A 
rose vine, very ancient, covered the small porch and the 
black, old, moss-grown roof. The small green foliage 
had come out all over it in the week since he was last 
there. The glazed windows w^ere open, and white home- 
spun curtains were swaying in the light breeze. A small 
fire blazed on the hearth, and before it, in a huge-splint- 
bottomed rocking-chair, the pale young mother reclined 
languidly, wrapped in a patchwork quilt. The hearth 
was swept and all was neat, but very bare. 

Close to the black fireplace on a low chair, with the 
month-old baby on her knees, sat Cassandra. She was 
warming something at the fire, which she reached over to 
stir now and then, while the red light played brightly over 
her sweet, grave face. Very intent she was, and lovely 
to see. She wore a creamy white homespun gown, coarse 
in texture, such as she had begun to wear about the house 
since the warm days had come. Thryng had seen her 
in such a dress but once before, and he liked it. With 
one arm guarding the little bundle in her lap, dividing her 
attention between it and the porridge she was making, 
she sat, a living embodimxcnt of David's vision, silhouetted 
against and haloed by the red fire, softened by the blue, 
obscuring smoke-wreaths that slowly circled in great rings 
and then swept up the wide, overarching chimney. 

He heard her low voice speaking, and his heart leaped 
toward her as he stood an instant, unheeded by them, ere 
he rapped lightly. They both turned with a slight start. 
Cassandra rose, holding the sleeping babe in the hollow of 
her arm, and set a chair for him before the fire. Then she 



126 The Mountain Girl 

laid the child carefully in the mother's arms, and removed 
the porridge from the fire. 

"Shall I call Hoke?" she asked, moving toward the 
door. 

David did not want her to leave them, loving the sight 
of her. "Don't go. I saw him as I came along," he said. 

But she went on, and sat herself on a seat under a huge 
locust tree. Tardiest of all the trees, it had not yet 
leaved out. Later it would be covered with a wealth of 
sweet white blossoms swarming with honey-bees, and 
the air all about it would be filled with its lavish fragrance 
and the noise of humming wings. 

Presently Hoke came plodding up from the field, and 
smiled as he passed her. "Doc inside.^" he asked. 

She nodded. When David came out, he found her still 
seated there, her head resting wearily against the rough 
tree. She rose and came toward him. 

"I thought I wouldn't leave until I knew if there was 
anything more I could do," she said simply. 

"No, you've done all you can. She'll be all right. 
Where's your horse ? " 

"I walked." 

"Why did you do that ? You ought not, you know." 

"Hoyle rode the colt down to see could Aunt Sally 
come here for a day or two, until Miz Belew can do for 
herself better." She turned back to the house. 

"Come home now with me. Ride my horse, and I'll 
walk. I'd like to walk," urged David. 

"Oh, no. Thank you. Doctor, I must speak to Azalie 
first. Don't wait." 

She went in, and David mounted and rode slowly on, 
but not far. Where the trail led through a small stream 
which he knew she must cross, he dismounted and allowed 
the horse to drink, while he stood looking back along the 
way for her to come to him. Soon he saw her white dress 
among the glossy rhododendron leaves as she moved 
swiftly along, and he walked back to meet her. 

"I have waited for you. You are not used to this kind 
of a saddle, I know, but what's the difference ? You can 
ride cross-saddle as the young ladies do in the North, 
can't vou ?" 

I reckon I could." She laughed a little. "Do they 



it 



Cassandra's Trouble 127 

ride that way where you come from ? It must look right 
funny. I don't guess I'd Uke it." 

*'But just try — to please me? Why not?" 

"If you don't mind, I'd rather walk, please, suh. Don't 
wait." 

"Then I will walk with you. I may do that, may I 
not?" He caught the bridle-rein on the saddle, leaving 
the horse to browse along behind as he would, and walked 
at her side. She made no further protest, but was 
silent. 

"You don't object to this, do you ?" he insisted. 

"It's pleasanter than being alone, but it's right far to 
walk, seems like, for you." 

"Then why not for you ?" She smiled her mysterious, 
quiet smile. "You must know that I am stronger than 
you?" he persisted. 

"I ought to think so, since that day we rode over to 
Gate Irwin's, but I was right afraid for you that time, 
lest you get cold ; and then it was me — " she paused, and 
looked squarely in his eyes and laughed. "You wouldn't 
say 'it was me,' would you ?" 

He joined merrily in her laughter. "I never corrected 
you on that." 

"You never did, but you didn't need to. I often know, 
after I've said something — not — right — as you would 
say it." 

"Do you, indeed?" he walked nearer, boyishly happy 
because she was close beside him. He wanted to touch 
her, to take her hand and walk as children do, but could 
not because of the subtile barrier he felt between them. 
He determined to break it down. "Finish what you were 
saying? And then it was me — what?'* 

"And then it was I who gave out, not you." 

"But you were a heroine — a heroine from the ground 
up, and I love you." He spoke with such boyish impul- 
siveness that she took the remark as one of his extrava- 
gances, and merely smiled indulgently, as if amused at it. 
She did not even flush, but accepted it as she would an 
outburst from Hoyle. 

David was amazed. It only served to show him how 
completely outside that charmed circle within which she 
lived he still was. He was maddened by it. He came 



128 The Mountain Girl 

nearer and bent to look in her face, until she lifted her 
eyes to look fairly in his. 

''That's right. Look at me and understand me. I 
waited there only that I might tell you. Why do you put 
a wall between us "^ I tell you I love you. I love you, 
Cassandra ; do you understand ?" 

She stood quite still and gazed at him in amazement, 
almost as if in terror. Her face grew white, and she 
pressed her two hands on her heart, then slowly slid them 
up to her round white throat as if it hurt her — a move- 
ment he had seen in her twice before, when suffering 
emotion. 

"Why, Cassandra, does it hurt you for me to tell you 
that I love you ? Beautiful girl, does it .? " 
* "Yes, suh," she said huskily. 

He would have taken her in his arms, but refrained 
for very love of her. She should be sacred even from his 
touch, if she so wished, and the barrier, whatever it might 
be, should halo her. He had spoken so tenderly he had 
no need to tell her. The love was in his eyes and his 
voice, but he went on. 

"Then I must be cruel and hurt you. I love you all 
the days and the nights — all the moments of the days — 
I love you." 

In very terror, she flung out her hands and placed them 
on his breast, holding him thus at arm's-length, and with 
head thrown back, still looked into his eyes piteously, 
imploringly. With trembling lips, she seemed to be speak- 
ing, but no voice came. He covered her hands with his, 
and held them where she had placed them. 

"You have put a wall between us. Why have you 
done it?" 

"I didn't — didn't know; I thought you were — as 
far — as far away from us as the star — the star of gold 
is — from our world in the night — so far — I didn't guess 
— you could come so — near." She bowed her head 
and wept. 

"You are the star yourself, you beautiful — you are — " 

But she stopped him, crying out. She could not draw 
her hands away, for he still held them clasped to his 
heart. 

"No, no ! The wall is there. It must be between us 



Cassandra's Trouble 129 

for always, I am promised." The grief wailed and wept 
in her tones, and her eyes were wide and pleading. "I 
must lead my life, and you — you must stay outside the 
wall. If you love me — Doctor, — you must never know 
it, and I must never know it." Her beating heart stopped 
her speech and they both stood thus a moment, each seeing 
only the other's soul. 

"Promised.^" The word sank into his heart like lead. 
*' Promised .^" Slowly he released her hands, and she 
covered her face with them and sank at his feet. He bent 
down to her and asked almost in a whisper : "Promised ? 
Did you say that word.^^" 

She drooped lower and was silent. 

All the chivalry of his nature rose within him. Should 
he come into her life only to torment and trouble her ? 
Ought he to leave the place ? Could he bear to live so 
near her ? What had. she done — this flower ? Was she 
to be devoured by swine ? The questions clamored at 
the door of his heart. But one thing could he see clearly. 
He must wait without the wall, seeking only to serve and 
protect her. 

With the unerring instinct which led her always straight 
to the mark, she had seen the only right course. He 
repeated her words over and over to himself. " If j^ou love 
me, you must never know it, and I must never know it." 
Her heart should be sacred from his personal intrusion, 
and their old relations must be reestablished, at whatever 
cost to himself. 

With flash-light clearness he saw his diflficulty, and that 
only by the elimination of self could he serve her, and also 
that her manner of receiving his revelation had but inten- 
sified his feeling for her. The few short moments seemed 
hours of struggle with himself ere he raised her to her 
feet and spoke quietly, in his old way. 

He lifted her hand to his lips. *'It is past, Miss Cas- 
sandra. We will drop these few moments out of your life 
into a deep well, and it shall be as if they had never been." 
He thought as he spoke that the well w^as his own heart, 
but that he would not say, for henceforth his love and 
service must be selfless. "We may be good friends still? 
Just as we were ?" 

"Yes, suh," she spoke meekly. 



130 The Mountain Girl 

"And we can go right on helping each other, as we have 
done all these weeks ? I do not need to leave you ? " 

*'0h, no, no !" She spoke with a gasp of dismay at the 
thought. ** It — won't hurt so much if I can see you going 
right on — getting strong — like you have been, and 
being happy — and — " She paused in her slowly trail- 
ing speech and looked about her. They were down in a 
little glen, and there were no mountain tops in sight for 
her to look up to as was her custom. 

*' And what, Cassandra l! Finish what you were saying." 
Still for a while she was silent, and they walked on together. 
"And now won't you say what you were going to say?" 
He could not talk himself, and he longed to hear her voice. 

"I was thinking of the music you made. It was so glad. 
I can't talk and say always what I think, like you do, 
but seems like it won't hurt me so here," she put her hand 
to her throat, "where it always hurts me when I am sorry 
at anything, if I can hear you glad in the music — like 
you were that — night I thought you were the ' Voices.* " 

"Cassandra, it shall be glad for you, always." 

She looked into his eyes an instant with the clear light 
of understanding in her own. "But for you .^ It is for 
you I want it to be glad." 



CHAPTER XIV 

IN TVHICH DAVID VISITS THE BISHOP, AND FRALE SEES HIS 

ENEMY 

The bishop was seated in a deep canvas chair on his 
wide veranda, looking out over his garden toward a dis- 
tant hne of blue hills. His little wife sat close to his side 
on a low rocker, very busy with the making of buttonholes 
in a small girl's frock of white dimity and lace. Betty 
Towers loved lace and pretty things. 

The small girl was playing about the garden paths with 
her puppy and chattering with Frale in her high, happy, 
childish voice, while he bent weeding among the beds of 
okra and egg-plant. His face wore a more than usually 
discontented look, even when answering the child with 
teasing banter. Xow and then he lifted his eyes from his 
work and watched furtively the movements of David 
Thryng, who was pacing restlessly up and down the long 
veranda in earnest conversation with the bishop and his 
wife. 

The two in the garden could not understand what was 
being said at the house, but each party could hear the 
voices of the other, and by calling out a little could easily 
converse across the dividing hedge and the intervening 
space. 

"Talk about the influence of the beautiful in nature 
upon the human soul, — it is all very pretty, but I believe 
the soul must be more or less enli<2:htened to feel it. I've 
learned a few things among your people up there in the 
mountains. Strange bcinfsrs thev are." 

*'It onlv goes to show that hereditv alone won't do every- 
thing," said the bishop, placing the tips of his fingers 
together and frowning meditatively. 

"Heredity? It means a lot to us over there in Eng- 
land." 

"Yes, ves. But vour old families need a little new 
blood in them now and then, even if they have to come 
over here for it." 

131 



132 The Mountain Girl 

*'For that and — your money — yes." Thryng 
laughed. "But these mountain people of yours, who 
are they anyway 't " 

*']Most of them are of as pure a strain of British as any 
in the world — as any you will find at home. They have 
their heredity — and only that — from all your classes 
over there, but it is from those of a hundred or more years 
ago. They are the unmixed descendants of those you sent 
over here for gain, drove over by tyranny, or exported for 
crime." 

"How unmixed in your most horribly mixed and mon- 
grel population '^ " 

"Circumstances and environment have kept them to the 
pure stock, and neglect has left them untrammelled by 
civilization and unaided by education. Time and genera- 
tions of ignorance have deteriorated them, and nature 
alone — as you were but now admitting — has hardly 
served to arrest the process by the survival of the fittest.'* 

"Nature — yes — how do you account for it.^ I have 
been in the grandest, most wonderful places, I venture to 
say, that are to be found on earth, and among all the glory 
that nature can throw around a man, he is still, if left to 
himself, more bestial than the beasts. He destroys and 
defaces and defiles nature ; he kills — for the mere sake 
of killing — more than he needs ; he enslaves himself 
to his appetites and passions, follows them wildly, yields 
to them recklessly ; and destroys himself and all the beauty 
around him that he can reach, wantonly. Why, Bishop 
Towers, sometimes I've gone out and looked up at the stars 
above me and wondered which was real, they and the mar- 
vellous beauty all around me, or the three hundred reeking 
humanity sleeping in the camp beneath them. Sometimes 
it seemed as if only hell were real, and the camp was a bit 
of it let loose to mock at heaven." 

"We mustn't forget that what is transitory is not a 
part of God's eternity of spirit and truth." 

"Oh, yes, yes ! But we do forget. x\nd some transitory 
things are mighty hard to endure, especially if they must 
endure for a lifetime." 

David was thinking of Cassandra and what in all prob- 
ability would be her doom. He had not mentioned her 
name, but he had come down with the intention of learning 



David visits the Bishop 133 

all he could about her, and if possible to whom she was 
*'promised." He feared it might be the low-browed, 
handsome youth bending over the garden beds beyond 
the hedge, and his heart rebelled and cried out fiercely 
within him, *'What a waste, what a waste!" 

Betty Towers, intent on her sewing, felt the thrill that 
intensified David's tone, and she, too, thought of Cas- 
sandra. She dropped her work in her lap and looked 
earnestly in her husband's face. 

"James, I feel just as Doctor Thryng does — when I 
think of some things. When I see a tragedy coming to 
a human soul, I feel that a lifetime of transitory things 
like that is hard to endure. Fancy, James ! Think of 
Cassandra. You knov/ her, Doctor Thryng, of course. 
They live just below your place. She is the Widow Far- 
well's daughter, but her name is Merlin." 

David arrested his impatient stride and, drawing a chair 
near her, dropped into it. "What about her.'^" he said. 
"Whatis the tragedy .5"^ 

"I think, Betty, the hills must keep their ot^ti secrets," 
said the bishop. 

His little wife compressed her lips, glanced over the 
hedge at the young man who happened at the moment 
to have straightened from his bent position among the 
plants and was gazing at their guest, then resumed her 
sewing. 

"Is it something I must not be told.^" asked David, 
quietly. "But I may have my suspicions. Naturally 
we can't help that." 

"I think it is better to know the truth. I don't like 
suspicions. They are sure to lead to harm. James, let 
me put it to the doctor as I see it, and see what he thinks 
of it." 

"As you please, dear." 

**It's like this. Have you seen anything of that girl 
or observed her much ? " 

"I certainly have." 

"Then, of course, you can see that she is one of the best 
of the mountain people, can't you '^ Well ! She has 
promised to marry — promised to marry — think of it ! 
one of the wildest, most reckless of those mountain bovs, 
one that she knows very well has been in illicit distilling. 



134 The Mountain Girl 

He is a lawbreaker in that way ; and, more than that, he 
drinks, and in a drunken row he shot dead his friend." 

"All!" David rose, turned away, and again paced the 
piazza. Then he returned to his seat. "I see. The 
young man I tried to help off when I first arrived." 

"Yes. There he is." 

*'I see. Handsome type." 

"He's down here now, keeping quiet. How long it will 
last, no one knows. Justice is lax in the mountains. His 
father shot three or four men before he died himself of 
a gunshot wound which he received while resisting the 
ofiicers of the law. If there's a man left in the family to 
follow this thing up, Frale will be hunted down and arrested 
or shot; otherwise, when things have cooled off a little 
up there, he will go back and open up the old business, and 
the tragedy will be repeated. James, you know how often 
after the best you could do and all their promises, they 
go back to it .?" 

"I admit it's always a question. They don't seem to 
be content in the low country. I think it is often a sort 
of natural gravitation back to the mountains where they 
were born and bred, more than it is depravity." 

"I know, James, but that excuse won't help Cassandra.'* 

"AMiv did she do it.'^" asked David. "She must have 
known to v\4iat such a marriage would bring her." 

"Do it ? That is the sort of girl she is. If she thought 
she ought, she would leap over that fall there." 

"But wh}^ should she think she ought ? Had she given 
her — promise — " David saw her as she appeared to him 
when she had said that word to him on the mountain, and 
it silenced him, but only for a moment. He would learn 
all he could of her motives now. He must — he would 
know. "I mean before he did this, before she went away 
to study — had she made him such a — promise ? " 

"No. You tell him about it, James. You have seen 
her and talked with her. They were quarrelling about her, 
as I understand, and she thinks because she was the cause 
of the deed she must help him make retribution. Isn't 
that it, James ? She knows perfectly well what it means 
for her, for she has had her aspirations. I can see it all. 
Frale says he w^as not drunk nor his friend either. He 
says the other man claimed — but I won't go into that — 



David visits the Bishop 135 

only Cassandra promised him before God, he says, that if 
he would repent, she would marry him. xVnd when she 
was here she used to talk about the wav those women live. 
How her own mother has worked and aged ! ^^ hy, she 
is not yet sixty. You have seen how they live in their 
wretched little cabins. Doctor; that's what Frale would 
doom her to. He never in life will understand her. He'll 
grow old like his father, — a passionate, ignorant, untamed 
animal, and worse, for he would be drunken as well. He's 
been drunk twice since he came down here. James, you 
know they think it's perfectly right to get drunk Saturday 
afternoon." 

*' Yes, it seems a terrible waste ; but if she has children, 
she will be able to do more for them than her mother has 
done for her, and they will have her inheritance ; so her 
life can't be wholly wasted, even if she is not able to live 
up to her aspirations." 

"James Towers! I — that — it's because you are a 
man that you can talk so ! I'm ashamed, and you a 
bishop ! I wish — " Betty's eyes were full of angry tears. 
*'I only wish you were a woman. Slowly improve the race 
by bearing children — giving them her inheritance ! How 
would she bear them ? Year after year — ill fed, half 
clothed, slaving to raise enough to hold their souls in their 
bodies, bringing them into the world for a brute who knows 
only enough to make corn whiskey — to sell it — and drink 
it — and reproduce his kind — when — when she knows 
all the time what ought to be ! Oh, James, James, 
think of it ! " 

"My dear, my dear, you forget, he has promised to 
repent and live a different life. If he does, things will be 
better than we now see them. If he does not change, then 
we may interfere — perhaps." 

*'I know, James. But — but — suppose he repents and 
she becomes his wife, and puts aside all her natural tastes, 
and the studies she loves, and goes on living v/ith him there 
on the home place, and he does the best he can — even. 
Don't you see that her nature is fine and — and so dif- 
ferent — even at the best, James, for her it will be death 
in life. And then there is the terrible chance, after all, 
that he might go back and be like his father before him, 
and then what ? " 



136 The Mountain Girl 

"Well, their lives and destinies are not in our hands; 
we can only watch out for them and help them." 

"James, he has been drunk twice !" 

"Yes, yes, Betty, my Httle tempest, and if he gets drunk 
twice more, and twice more, she will still forgive him until 
seventy times seven. We must make her see that unless 
he keeps his promise to her, she must give him up." 

"Of course. I suppose that's all we can do. I — don't 
know what you'll think of me. Doctor Thryng; I'm a 
dreadful scold. If James were not an angel — " 

"It's perfectly delicious. I would rather hear you scold 
than — " 

"Than hear James preach," laughed the bishop. "I 
agree with you." 

"I agree with her," said David, emphatically. "It 
ought to be stopped if — " 

"If it ought to be, it will be. T\Tiat do you think she 
said to me about it when I went to reason with her ? ' If 
Christ can forgive and stand such as he, I can. It is laid 
on my soul to do this.' I had no more to say." 

"That is one point of view, but we mustn't lose sight of 
the practical, either. To be his wife and bear his children 
— I call it a waste, a — '* 

"Yes, yes. So it is." And what more could the bishop 
say .f^ After a little, he added, "But still we must not 
forget that he, too, is a human soul and has a value as great 
as hers." 

"According to your viewpoint, but not to mine — not 
to mine. If a man is enslaved to his own appetites, he has 
no right to enslave another to them." 

The following day David took himself back to his hermi- 
tage, setting aside all persuasions to remain. 

"Don't make a recluse of yourself," begged the bishop's 
wife. "The amenities of life can't always be dispensed 
with, and we need you, James and I, you and your 



music.'* 



David laughed. "I'm too fatally human to become 
a recluse, and as for the amenities, they are not all of one 
order, you know. I find plenty of scope for exercising 
them on others, and I often submit to having them exer- 
cised on me, — after their own ideas." He laughed again. 
"I wish you could look into my larder. You'd find me 



David visits the Bishop 137 

provided with all the hills afford. They have loaded me 
with gifts." 

"No wonder ! I know what your life up there means to 
them, taking care of their mothers and babies, and sitting 
up with them nights, going to them when they are in 
trouble, rain or shine, and visiting them in their bare, 
wretched, crowded homes." 

"It wouldn't be so bad often, if it weren't that when a 
family is in serious trouble or has a case needing quiet and 
care, the sympathies of all their relatives are roused, and 
they come crowding in. In one case, the father was ill 
with pneumonia. I did all I could for him, and next day 
— would you believe it .^^ — I found his sister and her ' old 
man' and their three youngsters, his old mother and a 
brother and a widowed sister, all camped down on them, 
all in one room. The sister sat by the fire nursing her 
three-months-old baby, his mother was smoking at her 
side, and the sick man's six little children and their three 
cousins were raising Ned, in and out, with three or four 
hounds. Not one of the visitors was helping, or, as they 
say up there, 'doing a hck,' but the vdie was cooking for 
the vrhole raft when her husband needed all her care. 
Marvellous ideas they have, some of them." 

"You ought to write out some of your experiences." 

"Oh, I can't. It would seem like a sort of betrayal of 
friendship. They have adopted me, so to speak, and are 
so naive and kind, and have trusted me — I think they 
are my friends. I may be very odd — you know." 

"I know how you feel," said Betty. 

The bishop's little daughter had assumed the proprie- 
torship of the doctor. She even preferred his companion- 
ship to that of her puppy. She clung to his hand as he 
walked away, pulling and swinging upon his arm to coax 
him back. He took her in his arms and carried her out 
upon the walk, the small dog barking and snapping at his 
heels, as David threatened to bear his tyrannical young 
mistress away to the station. 

"Doggie wants you to leave me here," she cried, pound- 
ing him vigorously with her two little fists. 

He brought her back and placed her on the broad, flat 
top of the high gate-post. "Very well, doggie may have 
you. I will leave you here." 



138 The Mountain Girl 



<(' 



Doggie wants you to stay, too." She held him with 
her small arms about his neck. 

"Well, doggie can't have me." He unclinched her 
chubby hands, crossed them in her lap, and held them fast 
while he kissed her tanned and rosy cheek. "Good-by, 
you young rogue," he said, and strode away. 

"Come and lift me down," she wailed. But he knew 
well she could scramble down by herself when she chose, 
and walked on. She continued to call after him ; then, 
spying Frale in the wood yard, she imperatively summoned 
him to her aid, and trotted at his side back to the wood- 
pile, where they sat comfortably upon a log and visited 
together. 

They were the best of friends and chattered with each 
other as if both were children. In the slender shadow 
of a juniper tree that stood like a sentinel in the corner 
of the wood yard they sat, where a high board fence sepa- 
rated them from the back street. 

The bishop's place was well planted, and this corner had 
been the quarters of the house servants in slave times. 
It was one of Frale's duties to pile here, for winter use, the 
firewood which he cut in short lengths for the kitchen fire, 
and long lengths for the open fireplaces. 

He hated the hampered village life, and round of small 
duties — the weeding in the garden, cleaning of piazzas 
and windows, and the sweeping of the paths. The wood- 
cutting was not so bad, but the rest he held in contempt 
as women's work. He longed to throw his gun in the hol- 
low of his arm and tramp off over his own mountains. At 
night he often wept, for homesickness, and wished he might 
spend a day tending still, or lying on a ridge watching the 
trail below for intruders on his privacy. 

The joy of life had gone out for him. He thought con- 
tinually of Cassandra and desired her ; and his soul wearied 
for her, until he was tempted to go back to the mountains 
at all risks, merely for a sight of her. Painfully he had 
tried to learn to write, working at the copies Betty Towers 
had set for him, — and certainly she had done all her 
conscientious heart prompted to interest him and keep 
him away from the village loungers. He had even pro- 
gressed far enough to send two horribly spelled missives 
to Cassandra, feeling great pride in them. And now he 



David visits the Bishop 139 

had begun to weary of learning. To be able to write those 
badly scrawled notes was in his eyes surely enough to dis- 
tinguish him from his companions at home ; of what use 
was more ? 

"What's that you are tossing up in the air? Let me 
see it," demanded the child, as Frale tossed and caught 
again a small, bright object. He kept on tossing it and 
catching it away from the two little hands stretched out 
to receive it. "Give it to me. Give it to me, Frale. Let 
me see it." 

He dropped it lightly in her palm. "Don't you lose 
hit. That thar's somethin' 'at's got a charm to hit." 

"\\Tiat's a 'charm to hit' ? I don't see any charm." 

Then Frale laughed aloud. He took it with his thumb 
and forefinger and held it between his eye and the sun. 
"Is that the way you see the 'charm to hit' ? Let me try." 

But he slipped it in his pocket, first placing it in a small 
bag which he drew up tightly with a string. "Hit hain't 
nothing you kin see. Hit's only a charm 'at makes hit 
plumb sure to kill anybody 'at hit hits. Hit's plumb sure 
to hit an' plumb sure to kill, too." 

"Oh, Frale ! What if it had hit me when you threw it 
up that way — and — killed me ? Then you'd be sorry, 
wouldn't you, Frale .f^" 

"Hit nevah wouldn't kill a girl — a nice little girl — 
like you be. Hit's charmed that-a-way, 'at hit won't kill 
nobody what I don't want hit to." 

"Then what do you keep it in your pocket for? You 
don't want to kill anybody, do you, Frale ?" 

"Naw — I reckon not ; not 'thout I have to." 

"But you don't have to, do you, Frale?" piped the 
child. 

He rose, and selecting an armful of stove wood carried it 
into the shed and began packing it away. Dorothy sat 
still on the log, her elbows on her knees, her chin in her 
hands, meditating. A tall man slouched by and peered 
over the high board fence at her. His eyes roved all 
about the place eagerly, keen and black. His matted hair 
hung long beneath his soft felt hat. The child looked up 
at him with fearless, questioning glance, then trotted in to 
her friend. 

Frale, did you see that man lookin' over the fence? 



(< ' 



140 The Mountain Girl 

You think he was lookin' for you, Frale ? Come see who 
'tis. P'r'aps he's a friend of yours." 

*' Dorothy, Dorothy," called her mother from the piazza, 
and the child bounded away, her puppy yelping and leap- 
ing at her side. The tall man turned at the corner and 
looked back at the child. 

The bishop's place occupied one corner of the block, and 
the fence with a hedge beneath it ran the whole length of 
two sides. Slowly sauntering along the second side, the 
gaunt, hungry-eyed man continued his way, searching 
every part of the yard and garden, even endeavoring, with 
backward, furtive glances, to see into the woodhouse, 
where in the darkness Frale crouched, once more pallid 
with abject fear, peering through the crack where on its 
hinges the door swung half open. 

As the man disappeared down the straggling village 
street, Frale dropped down on the wheelbarrow and 
buried his haggard face in his hands. A long time he sat 
thus, until the dinner-hour was past, and black Carrie 
had to send Dorothy to call him. Then he rose, but in 
the place of the white and haunted look was one of stub- 
born recklessness. He strolled to the house with the non- 
chalant air of one who fears no foes, but rather glories in 
meeting them, and sat himself down at his place by the 
kitchen table, where he bantered and badgered Carrie, 
who waited on him reluctantly, with contemptuous tosses 
of her woolly head. From the day of his first appearance 
there had been war between them, and now Frale knew 
that if the stranger asked her, she would gladly and slyly 
inform against him. 

The afternoon wore on. Again Frale sat on the wheel- 
barrow, thinking, thinking. He took the small bag from 
his pocket and felt of the bullet through the thin covering, 
then replaced it, and, drawing forth another bag, began 
counting his money over and over. There it was, all he 
had saved, five dollars in bills, and a few quarters and 
dimes. 

He did not like to leave the shelter of the shed, and his 
eyes showed only the narrow glint of blue as, with half- 
closed lids, he still peered out and watched the street where 
his enemy had disappeared. Suddenly he rose and climbed 
with swift, catlike movements up the ladder stairs behind 



David visits the Bishop 141 

him, which led to his sleeping loft. There he rapidly 
donned his best suit of dyed homespun, tied his few remain- 
ing articles of clothing in a large red kerchief, and before a bit 
of mirror arranged his tie and hair to look as like as possible 
to the .village youth of Farington. The distinguishing 
silken lock that would fall over his brow had grown again, 
since he had shorn it away in Doctor Thryng's cabin. 
Now he thrust it well up under his soft felt hat, and, taking 
his bundle, descended. Again his eyes searched up and 
down the street and all about the house and yard before 
he ventured out in the daylight. 

Dorothy and her dog came bounding down the kitchen 
steps. She carried two great fried cakes in her little hands, 
warm from the Hot fat, and she laughed with glee as she 
danced toward him. 

"Frale, Frale. I stole these, I did, for you. I told 
Carrie I w^anted two for you, an' she said * G'long, chile.'" 
She thrust them in his hands. 

"What's the matter, Frale? What you all dressed up 
for ? This isn't Sunday, Frale. Is they going to be a 
circus, Frale, is they .f^" She poured forth her questions 
rapidly, as she hopped from one foot to the other. *'Will 
you take me, Frale, if it's a circus ? I'll ask mamma. I 
want to see the el'phant." 

'Tain't no circus,'' he replied grimly. 

"What's the matter, Frale ? Don't you like your fried 
cakes ? Then why don't you eat them ? What you 
wrapping them up for ? You ought to say thank you, 
when I bring you nice cakes 'at I went an' stole for you," 
she remonstrated severely. 

His throat worked convulsively as he stood, now looking 
at the child, now watching the street. Suddenly he lifted 
her in his arms and buried his face in her gingham 
apron. 

*'I had a little sister oncet, only she's growed up now, 
an' she hain't my little sister any more." He kissed her 
brown cheek tenderly, even as David had done, and set her 
gently down on her two stubby feet. "You run in an' 
tell yer maw thank you, fer me, will ye ? Mind, now. 
Listen at me whilst I tell you what to tell yer paw an' maw 
fer me. Say, * Frale seen a houn' dog on his scent, an' he's 
gone home to git shet of him.' " 



142 The Mountain Girl 

" V^Tiere's the * houn' dog,' Frale ? " She gazed fearfully 
about. 

"He's gone now. He won't bite — not you, he won't." 

"Oh, Frale ! I wish it was a circus." 

"Yas," drawled the young man, with a sullen smile 
curling his lips, "may be hit be a sort of a circus. Kin ye 
remember what I tol' you to tell yer paw .^" 

"You — you seen a houn' dog on — on a cent — how 
could he be on a cent ?'' 

"Say, * Frale seen a houn' dog on his scent, an' he's gone 
home to git shet of him.' " 

"Frale seen a houn' dog on — on a — a cent, an' — 
an' — an' he's gone home to — to get shet of him. TMiat's 
* get shet of him,' Frale ? " 

"Nevah mind, honey; yer paw'll know. Run in an' 
tell him 'fore you forgit hit. Good-by." 

She danced gayly off toward the house, but turned to call 
back at him, as he stood watching her. "Are you going to 
hit the ' houn' ' dog with the pretty ball, Frale ? " 

"I reckon." He laughed and strode off toward the one 
small station in the opposite direction from the way the 
man had taken. 

Frale knew well where he had gone. On the outskirts 
of the village was a small grove of sycamore and gum 
trees, by a little stream, where it was the custom for the 
mountain people to camp with their canvas-covered 
wagons. There they would build their fires on a charred 
place between stones, and heat their coffee. There they 
would feed their oxen or mule team, tied to the rear wheels 
of their wagons, with corn thrown on the ground before 
them. At nightfall they would crawl under the canvas 
cover and sleep on the corn fodder within. 

Often beneath the fodder might be found a few jugs of 
raw corn whiskey hidden away, while the articles they had 
brought down for sale or barter at the village stores were 
placed on top in plain view. Sometimes they brought 
vegetables, or baskets of splints and willow withes, made 
by their women, or they might have a few yards of home- 
spun towelling. 

The man Frale had seen was the older brother of his 
friend Ferdinand Teasley, and well Frale knew that he was 
camped with his ox team down by the spring, where it had 



David visits the Bishop 143 

been his habit to wait for the cover of darkness, when he 
could steal forth and leave his jugs where the money might 
be found for them, placed on some rock or stump or fallen 
trunk half concealed by laurel shrubs. How often had the 
])roducts of Frale's still been conveyed down the moun- 
tain by that same ox team, in that same unwieldy vehicle ! 

Giles Teasley's cabin and patch of soil, planted always 
to corn, was a long distance from his father's mill, and also 
from his brother's still, hence he could with the more 
safety dispose of their illicit drink. 

In the slow but deadly sure manner of his people, he had 
but just aroused himself to the fact that his brother's 
murderer was still alive and the deed unavenged;^ and 
Frale knew he had come now, not to dispose of the whiskey, 
since the still had been destroyed, but to find his brother's 
slayer and accord him the justice of the hills. 

To the mountain people the processes of the law seemed 
vague and uncertain. They preferred their own methods. 
A well-loaded gun, a sure aim, and a few months of hid- 
ing among relatives and friends until the vigilance of the 
emissaries of the law had subsided was the rule with them. 
Thus had Frale's father tTsdce escaped either prison or the 
rope, and during the last four years of his life he had never 
once ventured from his mountain home for a day at the 
settlements below; while among his friends his prowess 
and his skill in evading pursuit were his glory. 

Now it was Frale's thought to dare the worst, — to walk 
to the station like any village youth, buy his ticket, and take 
the train for Carew's Crossing, and from there make his 
way to his haunt while yet Giles Teasley was taking his 
first sleep. 

He reasoned, and rightly, that his enemy would linger 
about several days searching for him, and never dream of 
his having made his escape by means of the train. Since 
the first scurry of search was over, it was no longer the 
officers of the law Frale feared, but this same lank, ill- 
favored mountaineer, who was now warming his coffee 
and eating his raw salt pork and corn-bread by the stream, 
while his drooling cattle stood near, sleepily chewing their 
cuds. 



CHAPTER XV 

IN WHICH JERRY CAREW GIVES DAVID HIS VIEWS ON 
FUTURE PUNISHMENT, AND LITTLE HOYLE PAYS HIM 
A VISIT AND IS MADE HAPPY 

Uncle Jerry Carew had led David's horse down to the 
station ready saddled to meet him, according to agreement, 
and side by side they rode back, the old man beguiling the 
way with talk of mountain affairs most interesting to the 
young doctor, who led him on from tales of his own youthful 
prowess, " when catamounts and painters war nigh as 
frequent as woodchucks is now," until he felt he knew 
pretty well the history of all the mountain side. 

"Yas, when I war a littlin', no highah'n my horse's 
knees, I kin remember thar war a gatherin' fer a catamount 
hunt on Reed's Hill ovah to'ds Pisgah. Catamounts war 
mighty pesterin' creeters them days. Ev'y man able to 
tote a gun war thar. 01' man Caswell — that war Miz 
Merlin — she war only a mite of a baby then — her gran'- 
paw, he war the oldest man in th' country ; he went an' 
carried his rifle his paw fit in th' Revolution with. He fit 
at King's Mountain, an' all about here he fit." 

"Did he fight in the Civil War, too ?" 

"Her gran'paw's paw? No. He war too ol' fer that, 
but his gran'son Caswell, he fit in hit, an' he nevah come 
back, neither. 01' Miz Caswell — Cassandry Merlin's 
gran'maw, she lived a widow nigh on to thirty year. She 
an' her daughter — that's ol' Miz Farwell that is now — 
they lived thar an' managed the place ontwell she married 
Merlin." 

"You knew her first husband, then ?^^ 

"Yas, know him.? Ev'ybody knew Thad Merlin. He 
come fom ovah Pisgah way, an' he took Marthy thar. 
Hit's quare how things goes. I always liked Thad Merlin. 
The' wa'n't no harm in him." 

David saw a quaint, whimsical smile play about the old 

144 



Hoyle visits David 145 

man*s mouth. "He war a preacher — kind of a mixtur 
of a preacher an' teacher an' hunter. Couldn't anybody 
beat him huntin' — and farmin' — well he could farm, too, 
— better'n most. He done well whatever he done, but 
he had a right quare way. He built that thar rock wall an' 
he 'lowed he'd have hit run plumb 'round the place. 

*' He war a fiddler, and he'd build awhile, and fetch his 
fiddle — he warn't right strong — an' then he'd set thar 
on the wall an' fiddle to the birds ; an' the wild creeturs, 
they'd come an' hear to him. I seen squerrels settin' on 
end hearkin' to him, myself. Arter a while, folks begun to 
think 'at he didn't preach the right kind of religion, an' 
they wouldn't go to hear him no more without hit war to 
listen did he say anythin' they could fin' fault with. 'Pears 
like they got in that-a-way they didn' go fer nothin' else. 
Hit cl'ar plumb broke him all up. He quit preachin' an' 
took more to fiddlin', an' he sorter grew puny, an' one day 
jes' natch'ly lay down an' died, all fer nothin', 'at anybody 
could see." 

"What was the matter with his preaching.'^" asked 
David, and again the whimsical smile played around the 
old man's mouth, and his thin lips twitched. 

" I reckon thar wa'n't 'nuff hell 'n' damnation in hit. Our 
people here on the mountain, they're right kind an' soft 
therselves. They don't whop ther chillen, nor do nothin' 
much 'cept a shootin' now an' then, but that's only 
amongst the men. The women tends mostly to the re- 
ligion, an' they likes a heap o' hell 'n' damnation. Hit 
sorter stirs 'em up an' gives 'em somethin' to chaw on, an' 
keeps 'em contented like. They has somethin' to threat'n 
ther men folks with an' keep ther chillen straight on, an' 
a place to sen' ther neighbors to when they don't suit. 
Yas, hit's right handy fer th' women. I reckon they 
couldn't git on without hit." 

*'Do they think they will have bodies that can be hurt 
by any such thing in the next world .f^" 

"I reckon so. But preacher Merlin, he said that thar 
war paths o' light an' paths o' darkness, an' that eve'y man 
he 'bided right whar he war at when he died. Ef he hed 
tuk the path o' darkness, thar he war in hit ; but ef he hed 
tuk the path o' light whar war heaven, then he war thar. 
An' he said the Lord nevah made no hell, hit war jes' 



146 The Mountain Girl 

our own selves made sech es that, an* he took an* cut 
that thar place cl'ar plumb out'n the Scripturs an' the 
worl' to come. But he sure hed a heap o' larnin', only 
some said a sight on hit war heathen, an' that war why he 
lef all the hell an' damnation outen his religion." 

Thus enlightened concerning many things, both of this 
particular bit of mountain world, which was all the world 
to his companion, and of the world to come, Thryng rode 
on, quietly amused. 

Sometimes he dismounted to investigate plants new to 
him, or to gather a bit of moss or fungi or parasite — any- 
thing that promised an elucidating hour with his splendid 
microscope. For these he always carried at the pommel 
of his saddle an air-tight box. The mountain people sup- 
posed he collected such things for the compounding of his 
drugs. 

When they reached the Fall Place, David continued 
along the main road below and took a trail farther on, 
merely a foot trail little used, to his eyrie. He had not 
seen Cassandra since they had walked together down 
from Hoke Belew's place. He had gone to Farington 
partly to avoid seeing her, nor did he wish to see her again 
until he should have so mastered himself as to betray 
nothing by his manner that might embarrass her or remind 
her painfully of their last interview, knowing he must elimi- 
nate self to reestablish their previous relations. 

David rode directly to his log stable, put up his horse, 
then unslung his box and walked with it toward his cabin. 
Suddenly he stopped. From the thick shrubbery where 
he stood he could see in at the large window where his 
microscope was placed quite through his cabin into the 
light, white canvas room beyond. Before the fireplace, 
clearly relieved against the whiteness of the farther room, 
stood Cassandra, gazing intently at something she held in 
her hand. David recognized it as a small, framed picture 
of his mother — a delicately painted miniature. He kept 
it always on the shelf near which she was standing. He 
saw her reach up and replace it, then brush her hand 
quickly across her eyes, and knew she had been weeping. 
He 'was ashamed to stand there watching her, but he 
could not move. Always, it seemed to him, she was being 
presented to him thus strongly against a surrounding halo 



Hoyle visits David 147 

of light, revealing every gracious line of her figure and 
her sweet, clean profile. 

He turned his eyes away, but as quickly gazed again; 
she had disappeared. He waited, and again she passed 
between his eyes and the light, here and there, moving 
quietly about, seeing that all was in order, as her custom 
was when she knew him to be absent. 

He saw her brushing about the hearth, carefully wiping 
the dust from his disordered table, lifting the books, touch- 
ing everything tenderly and lightly. His flute lay there. 
She took it in her hands and looked down at it solemnly, 
then slowly raised it to her lips. What '^ Was she going 
to try to play upon it ^ No, but she kissed it. Again and 
again she kissed the slender, magic wand, hurriedly, then 
laid it very gently down and with one backward glance 
walked swiftly out of the cabin and away from him, down 
the trail, with long, easy steps. Only once more she drew 
her hand across her eyes, and with head held high moved 
rapidly on. Never did she look to the right or the left or 
she must have seen him as he stood, scarcely breathing and 
hard beset to hold himself back and allow her to pass 
him thus. 

Now he knew that she had been deeply stirred by him, 
and the revelation fell upon his spirit, filling him with 
a joy more intense than anything he had ever felt or ex- 
perienced before, so poignantly sweet that it hurt him. 
Had he indeed entered into her dreams and become an 
undercurrent in her life even as she had in his, and did her 
soul and body ache for him as his for her ? 

Then he suffered remorse for what he had done. How 
long she had defended herself by that wall of impersonality 
w^ith which she had surrounded herself ! He had beaten 
down the ramparts and trampled in the garden of her soul. 
As he stood in the door of his cabin, the place seemed to 
breathe of her presence. She had made a veritable bower 
of it for his return. Every sweet thing she had gathered 
for him, as if, out of her love and her sorrow, she had meant 
to bring to him an especial blessing. 

A shallow basin filled with wild forget-me-nots stood 
on the shelf before his mother's picture. Ferns and vines 
fell over the stone mantle, and in earthen jars of mountain 
ware the early rhododendron, with its delicate, pearly 



148 The Mountain Girl 

pink blossoms, filled the dark corners. Masses of the 
plumed white ash shook feathery tassels along the walls, 
making the air sweet with their fragrance. Ah, how clean 
and fresh everything was ! All his disorder was set to 
rights, and fresh linen was on his bed in his canvas 
room. 

Even his table was laid with his small store of dishes, 
and food placed upon it, still covered in the basket he was 
now so accustomed to see. Sweet and dainty it all was. 
He had only to light the fat pine sticks laid beneath the 
kettle swung above and make his tea, and his meal was 
ready. Had she divined he would not stop at the Fall 
Place this time, when in the past it had been his custom 
to do so ^ Ah, she knew ; for is not the little winged god 
a wonderful teacher ? 

Thryng was humbled in the very dust and ashes of re- 
pentance as he sat down to his late dinner. The fra- 
grance in the room, all he ate, everything he touched, filled 
his senses with her ; and he — he had only brought her 
sorrow. He had come into her life but to bruise her spirit 
and leave her sad at heart with a deep sadness he dared not 
and could not alleviate. He lifted a pale purple orchid 
she had placed in a tumbler at his hand and examined it. 
Evidently she had thought this the choicest of all the 
woodland treasures she had brought him, and had placed 
it there, a sweet message. What should he do "^ Ah, 
what could he do ^ He must not see her yet — at least 
not until to-morrow. 

Later, David brought in his specimens and occupied 
himself with his microscope. He had begun a careful 
study of certain destructive things. Even here in the wild 
he found them, evil and unwholesome, clinging to the well 
and strong, slowly but surely sapping the vitality of those 
who gave them life. Every evil, he thought, must, in the 
economy of nature, have its antidote. So, with the ardor 
of the scientist, he divided with care the nasty, pasty 
growth he had found and prepared his plates. Systemati- 
cally he made drawings and notes as he studied the mag- 
nified atoms beneath his powerful lens, and while he sat 
absorbed in his work, Hoyle's childish voice piped at him 
from the doorway. 

"Howdy, Doctah Thryng." 



Hoyle visits David 149 

'*Why, hello! Howdy!" said David, without looking 
up from his work. 

"What you got in that thar gol' machine ? Kin I look, 
too?" 

"What have I got ? Why — I've got a bit of the devil 
in here." 

"Whar'dyougithim? Huh?" 

'*0h, I found him along the road between here and the 
station." 

"Did — did he come on the cyars with you? Whar 
war he at ? Hu come he in thar ?" David did not reply 
for an instant, and the awed child drew a step nearer. 
"Whar war he at ? " he insisted. " Hu come he in thar ? " 

"He was hanging to a bush as I came along, and I put 
him in my box and brought him home and cut him up and 
put a little bit of him in here." 

Then there was silence, and David forgot the small boy 
until he heard a deep-drawn sigh behind him. Looking up 
for the first time, he saw him standing aloof, a look of 
terror in his wide eyes as if he fain would run away, but 
could not from sheer fright. Poor little mite ! David in 
his playful speech had not dreamed of being taken in 
earnest. He drew the child to his side, where he cuddled 
gladly, nestling his twisted little body close, partly for 
protection, and partly in love. 

"You reckon he's plumb dade ?" David could feel the 
child's heart beating in a heavy labored way against his 
arm as he held him, and, pushing his papers one side, he 
lifted him to his knee. 

"Do I reckon who's dead ?" he asked absently, with his 
ear pressed to the child's back. 

"The devil what you done brought home in yuer box." 

"Dead? Oh, yes. He's dead — good and dead. Sit 
still a moment — so — now take a long breath. A long 
one — deep — that's right. Now another — so." 

"Whatfer?" 
I want to hear your heart beat." 
Kin you hear hit ?" 
Yes — don't talk, a minute, — that'll do. " 

"What you want to hear my heart beat fer ? I kin feel 
hit. Kin you feel yourn ? Be they more'n one devil ? " 

"Heaps of them." 



<( ' 



<( ' 



150 The Mountain Girl 



(<- 



When I go back, you reckon I'll find 'em hanging on 
the bushes ? Do they hang by ther tails, like 'possums 
does ?" 

Comfortable and happy where he was, the little fellow 
dreaded the distance he must traverse to reach his home 
under the peculiar phenomena of devils hanging to the 
bushes along his route. 

*'0h, no, no. Here, I'll show you what I mean." Then 
he explained carefully to the child what he really meant, 
showing him some of the strange and beautiful ways of 
nature, and at last allowing him to look into the micro- 
scope to see the little cells and rays. As he patiently and 
kindly taught, he was pleased with the child's eager, re- 
ceptive mind and naive admiration. Towards evening 
Hoyle was sent home, quite at rest concerning devils and 
all their kin, and radiantly happy with a box of many 
colored pencils and a blank drawing-book, which David 
had brought him from Farington. 

"I kin larn to make things like you b'en makin' with 
these, an' Cass, she'll he'p me," he cried. 

"What is Cass doing to-day .^^ " David ventured. 

"She be'n up here most all mornin', an' I he'ped get the 
light ud fer fire, an' then she sont me home to he'p maw 
whilst she stayed to fix up." 

"But now, I mean, when you came up here? " 

"Weavin' in the loom shed. Maw, she has a lot o' 
little biddies. The ol' hen hatched 'em, she did." 

"What have you done to your thumb ?" asked David, 
seeing it tied about with a rag. 

"I plunked hit with the hammer when I war a-makin' 
houses fer the biddies. I nailed 'em, I did." 

"You made the chicken coops ? Well, you are a clever 
little chap. Let me see your hand." 

"Yas, maw said I war that, too." 

"But you weren't very clever to do this. Whew ! 
What did you hit your thumb like that for.^" 

"Dunno." He looked ruefully at the crushed member 
which the doctor laved gently and soothingly. 

"Why didn't you come to me with it.f^" 

"Maw 'lowed the' wa'n't no use pesterin' you with 
eve'ything. She tol' me eve'y man had to larn to hit 
a nail on the haid." 



Hoyle visits David 151 

David laughed, and the child trotted away happy, his 
hand in a sling made of one of the doctor's linen hand- 
kerchiefs, and his box of pencils and his book hugged to 
his irregularly beating heart ; but it was with a grave face 
that Thryng saw him disappear among the great masses 
of pink laurel bloom. 

That evening, as the glow in the west deepened and died 
away and the stars came out one by one and sent their 
slender rays down upon the hills, David sat on his rock 
with his flute in his hand, waiting for a moment to arrive 
when he could put it to his lips and send out the message 
of glad hopes he had sent before. She had asked that one 
little thing, that his music might still be glad, and so for 
Cassandra's sake it must be. 

He tried once and again, but he could not play. At 
last, putting away from him his repentant thoughts, he 
gave his heart full sway, saying to himself : "For this mo- 
ment I vnll imagine harmlessly that my vision is all mine 
and my dream come true. It is the only way." Then he 
played as if it were he whom she had kissed so passionately, 
instead of his flute ; and thus it w^as the glad notes were 
falling on her spirit when Frale found her. 



CHAPTER XVI 

IN WHICH FRALE RETURNS AND LISTENS TO THE COM- 
PLAINTS OF DECATUR IRWIN's WIFE 

All was quiet and lonely around Carew's Crossing 
when Frale dropped from the train and struck off over the 
mountain. Soon there would be bustle and stir and life 
About the place, for the hotel would' be open and people 
would be crowding in, some to escape the heat of the far 
South and the low countries, some from the cities either 
North or South to whom the bracing air of the mountains 
would bring renewed vitality — business men with shat- 
tered nerves and women whose high play during the winter 
at the game of social life had left them nervous wrecks. 

But now the beauty of the spring and the sweet silences 
were undisturbed by alien chatter. As yet were to be 
heard only the noises of the forest — of wind and stream 
— of bird calls and the piping of turtles and the shrilling 
of insects or vibrant croaking of frogs — or mayhap the 
occasional sound of a gun, discharged by some solitary 
mountain boy, regardless of game laws, to provide a supper 
at home, — only these, as Frale climbed rapidly away 
from the station toward the Fall Place, and Cassandra. 
He would stop there first and then strike for his old haunts 
and hiding-places. 

He felt a leaping joy in his veins to be again among his 
hills. How lonely he had been for them he had not known 
until now, when, with lifted head and bounding heart, he 
trod lightly and easily the difficult way. And yet the 
undercurrent of a tragedy lay quiet beneath his joy and 
haunted him, keeping him to the trails above, — the secret 
paths which led circuitously to his home, — even while the 
thought of Cassandra^ made his heart buoyant and eager. 

The sight of Doctor Thryng who during these months 
had been near her — perhaps seeing her daily — aroused all 
the primitive jealousy of his nature. He would go now 
and persuade her to marry him and stand by him until he 

152 



Frale Returns 158 

could fight his way through to the unquestioned right to 
live there as his father had done, defying any who would 
interfere with his course. Had he not a silver bullet for 
the heart of the man who would dare contest his rights ? 
It only remained for him to meet Giles Teasley face to face 
to settle the matter forever. 

Since it was purely a mountain affair, and the officers 
of the law had already searched to their satisfaction, 
there was little chance that the pursuit would be renewed 
by the State. It would, however, be impossible for him 
to go back to the Fall Place and live there openly until 
the last member of the Teasley family capable of wreaking 
vengeance on his head had been settled with; but as the 
father was crippled with rheumatism and could do no more 
than totter about his mill and talk, only this one brother 
was left with whom to deal. Now that Frale was back 
in his own hills again, all terror slipped from him, and the 
old excitement in the presence of danger to be met, or 
avoided, stimulated him to a feeling of exuberance and 
triumph. With childlike facility he tossed aside the 
thought of his promise to Cassandra. It all seemed to 
him as a dream — all the horror and the remorse. Time 
had quickly dulled this last. 

"Ef I hadn't 'a* killed Ferd, he would 'a' shot me. Any- 
how, he hadn't ought to 'a' riled me that-a-way." 

He thought with shame of how he had sat cowering at 
the head of the fall, and had hurled his own dog to 
destruction, in his fear. " I war jes' plumb crazy," he 
soliloquized. 

As to how he could deal with Cassandra, he did not as 
yet know, but he would find a way. In his heart, he 
reached out to her and already possessed her. His 
blood leaped madly through his veins that he was so soon 
to see her and touch her. Have her he would, if he 
must continue to kill his way to her through an army of 
opponents. 

The evening was falling, and, imagining they would all 
be sleeping, he meant to creep quietly up and spend the 
night in the loom shed. There was no dog there now to 
disturb them with joyful bark of recognition. At last he 
found himself above the home, where, by striking through 
the undergrowth a short distance, he would come out by 



154 The Mountain Girl 

the great holly tree near the head of the fall. Already he 
could hear the welcome sound of rushing water. 

He drew nearer through the thick laurel and azalea 
shrubs now in full bloom ; their pollen clung to his clothing 
as he brushed among them. Cautiously he approached 
the spot which recalled to him the emotions he had ex- 
perienced there — now throbbing through him anew. He 
peered into the gathering dusk with eager eyes as if he 
thought to find her still there. Ah, he could crush her in 
his mad joy ! 

Suddenly he paused and listened. Other sounds than 
those of the night and the running water fell on his ear — 
sounds deliciously sweet and thrilling, filling all the air, 
mingling with the rushing of the fall and accenting its flow. 
From whence did they come — those new sounds ? He 
had never heard them before. Did they drop from the 
sky — from the stars twinkling brightly down on him — 
now faint and far as if born in heaven — now near and 
clear — silvery clear and strong and sweet — penetrating 
his very soul and making every nerve quiver to their 
pulsating rhythm ? He felt a certain fear of a new kind 
creep tinglingly through him, holding him cold and still — 
for the moment breathless. Was she there ? Had she 
died, and was this her spirit trying to speak ? 

Very quietly he drew nearer to the great rock. Yes, 
she was there, standing with her back to the silvery gray 
bole of the holly tree, her face lifted toward the mountain 
top and her expression rapt and listening — holy and 
pure — far removed from him as was the star above the 
peak toward which her gaze was turned. He could not 
touch her, nor crush her to him as a moment before he had 
felt he must, but he slowly approached. 

She heard his step and then saw him waiting there in 
the dim light of the starry dusk. For an instant she re- 
garded him in silence, then she essayed to speak, but her 
lips only trembled over the words voicelessly. He could 
not see her emotion, but he felt it, although her stillness 
made her seem calm. Hungrily he stood and watched 
her. At last she spoke : — 

"Why, Frale, Frale!" 

"Hit's me, Cass." 

"Have — have you been down to the house, Frale ?" 



Frale Returns 155 

"Naw, I jes' come this-a-way from the station." 

*'Is it — is it safe for you to come here, Frale ?" 

She stood a short distance from him, speaking so softly, 
and yet he could not touch her ; his hands seemed numb, 
and his breath came pantinglJ^ 

"I reckon hit's safe here as thar," he said huskily. 
"An' I'm come to stav, too." 

"Then let's go down to mother. Likely she's a-bed by 
now, but she'll be right glad to see you. She can walk a 
little now." She hastened to fill the moments with words, 
anything to divert that fixed gaze and take his thoughts 
from her. Instinctively she groped thus for tinie, she 
who like a deer would flee if flight were possible, even while 
her heart welled with pity for him. "Come. You can 
talk w^ith her whilst I get you some supper." She felt his 
pent-up emotion and secretly feared it, but held herself 
bravely. "Hoyle will nigh jump out of his skin, he'll be 
that glad you come back." 

He stood stubbornly where he was, and lifted his hand to 
grasp her arm, but she glided on just beyond his reach, 
either not seeing it, or avoiding it, he could not decide 
which, and still she said, "Come, Frale." He followed 
stumblingly in her wake, as a man follows an ignis fatuus, 
unconscious of the roughness of the way or of the steps he 
was taking — and the flute notes followed them from above 
— sweetly — mockingly, as it seemed to him. What were 
they ? Why were they .^ How came Cassandra there 
listening .^ He could stand this mystery no longer — and 
he cried out to her. 

"Cass, hear. Listen to that." 

"Yes, Frale." She spoke wearily, but did not pause. 

"Wait, Cass. What be hit, ye reckon.^ Hit sure 
hain't no fiddle. Thar! Heark to hit. Whar be hit at .'^ " 

"I reckon it's up yonder at Doctor Thryng's cabin. He 
has a little pipe like, that he blows on and it makes music 
like that." 

"An' you clum' up thar to heark to him ? " He bounded 
forward in the darkness and walked close to her. She 
quivered like a leaf, but held her voice low and steady as 
she replied. 

"No, Frale. I go there evenings when I'm not too tired. 
I've been going there ever since you left to — " 



156 The Mountain Girl 

" That doctali, he's be'n castin' a spell on you, Cass. I 
kin see hit — how you walkin' off an' nevah 'low me to 
touch you. Ye hain't said howd'y to me nor how you 
glad I come. You like a col' white drift o' snow blowin' 
on ahead o' me. You hain't no human girl like you used 
to be. I got somethin' to put a spell on him, too, ef he 
don't watch out." ? 

He spoke in his mild, low-voiced drawl, but he kept 
close to her side, and she could hear his breathing, quick 
and panting. She felt as if a tiger were keeping pace with 
her, and she knew the sinister meaning beneath his words. 
She knew that all she could do now was to take him back to 
his promise and hold him to it. 

"There's no such thing as spell casting, Frale. You 
know that, and you have my promise and I have yours. 
Have you forgot ^ Talking that way seems like you have 
forgot." She walked on rapidly, taking him nearer and 
nearer their home, and in her haste she stumbled. In an 
instant his arm was thrown around her, holding her on 
her feet. 

"Look at you now, like to fall cl'ar headlong, runnin' 
that-a-way to get shet o' me. 'Pears like you mad that 
I come." 

He held her back, and they went slowly, but he did not 
release her, nor did she struggle futilely against his strength, 
knowing it wiser to continue calmly leading him on ; but 
she could not reply. The start of her fall and her wildly 
beating heart rendered her breathless and weak. 

"I tell you that thar doctah man, he have put a spell 
on you. He done drawed you up thar to hear to him. 
I seed you lookin' like he'd done drawed yuer soul outen 
yuer body. I have heard o' sech. He's be'n down to 
Bishop Towahs', too, whar I be'n workin' at. I seed him 
watchin' me like he come to spy on me, an' he no sooner 
gone than I seed that thar Giles Teasley sneakin' 'long the 
fence lookin' over an' searchin' eve'y place like he war 
a-hungerin' fer a sight o' me." He stopped and swallowed 
angrily. They had arrived at the trough of running water, 
and she breathed easier to find herself so near her haven. 

"What have you done with your dog, Frale? You 
reckon he followed you off .^ I haven't seen him since 
you left.'' . 



Frale Returns " 157 

He released her then and, stooping to the water-pipe, 
drank a long draft, and thrust his head beneath it, allowing 
the water to drench his thick hair. Then he stood a 
moment, shaking his curling locks like a spaniel. 

"Wait here. I'll fetch a towel." She hastened within. 
"Mother, Frale's come back," she said quietly, not to 
awaken Hoyle ; then returned and tossed him the towel 
which he caught and rubbed vigorously over his head and 
face. 

"Now you are like yourself again, Frale." 

"Yas, I'm here an' I'm myself, I reckon. Who'd ye 
think I be ? " He caught her and kissed her, and, with his 
arm about her, entered the cabin. 

His mood changed with childish ease according to what- 
ever the moments brought him. Cassandra lighted a 
candle, for now that the days had grown warm, the fire was 
allowed to go out unless needed for cooking. His step- 
mother had roused herself and peered at him from out 
her dark corner, where little Hoyle lay sleeping soundly in 
the farther side of her bed. Frale strode across the uneven 
floor and kissed her also, resoundingly. Astounded, she 
dropped back on her pillow. 

"What ails ye, Frale !" The mountain people are for 
the most part too reserved to be lavish with their kisses. 

"Nothin' ails me. I'm kissin' you fer Cass's sake. Me 
an' her's goin' to get jined an' set up togethah. I'm come 
back fer to marry with her, and we're goin' ovah t'othah 
side Lone Pine, an' I'm goin' to build a cabin thar. That's 
how I'm kissin' you. Will you have anothah, or shall I 
give hit to Cass ? " 

"You hush an* go 'long," said the mother, half con- 
temptuously. 

"Frale's making fool talk, mothah. Don't give heed to 
him. He's light-headed, I reckon, and I'm going to get 
him something to eat right quick." 

"I 'low he be light-headed. Nobody's goin' to git 
Cass whilst I'm livin', 'thout he's got.more'n a cabin ovah 
t'othah side Lone Pine. She's right well off here, an' here 
she'll 'bide." 

Frale turned darkly on the mother. "I reckon you'd 
bettah give heed to me mor'n to her," he said, in the low 
drawl which boded much with him, 



158 The Mountain Girl 

Cassandra, on her knees at the hearth, was arranging 
sticks of fat pine to Hght the fire. Her hands shook as she 
held them. This Frale saw, and his eyes gleamed. He came 
to her side and, kneeling also, took them from her. 

"Hit's my place to do this fer you now, Cass. F'om 
now on — I reckon. I'll hang the kittle fer ye, too, an' 
fetch the water." 

The mother stared at them in silence, and Cassandra, 
taking up the coffee-pot, rose and went out. When she 
returned, the fire was crackling merrily, and the great 
kettle swung over it. Hoyle was up and seated on his 
half-brother's knee. Cassandra's eyes looked heavy and 
showed traces of tears. 

Frale saw it all, with eyes gleaming blue through nar- 
rowly drawn lids. His lips quivered a little as he talked 
with Hoyle. He drew out his money for the child to count 
over gleefully, thus diverting himself with the boy, while 
he watched Cassandra furtively. He decided to say no 
more at present until she should have had time to adjust 
her mind to the thought he had so daringly announced to 
her mother. The two cakes little Dorothy had given him 
he took from his bundle and gave to Hoyle, then carried 
him back and put him to bed and told him to sleep again. 

For all of her promise, Cassandra had not expected this 
to come upon her so suddenly, like lightning out of a clear 
sky, startling her very soul with fear. As Frale ate 
what she set before him, she went over to the bedside, and 
sat there holding her mother's hand and talking in low 
tones, while Hoyle, with wide eyes, strove to hear. 

"Be hit true, what he says, Cass.^" 

"Not all, mother. I never told him I would go and 
live over beyond Lone Pine. I meant always to live right 
here with you, but I am promised to him. I gave him my 
word that night he left, to get him to go and save him. 
Oh, God ! Mother, I didn't guess it would come so soon. 
He promised me he would repent his deed and live right." 

The mother brightened and drew her daughter down 
and spoke low in her ear. "Make him keep to his promise 
first, child. Yuer safe thar. I reckon he's doin' a heap o' 
repentin' this-a-way. I ain' goin' 'low you throw you'se'f 
away on no Farwell, ef he be good-lookin', 'thout he holds 
to his word good fer a year. Hit's jes' the way his paw 



Frale Returns 159 

done me. He gin me his word 'at he'd stop 'stillin' an' 
drinkin', an' he helt to hit fer three months, an' then he 
come on me this-a-way an' I married him, an' he opened 
up his still again in three weeks, an' thar he went his own 
way f'om that day." 

Cassandra rose and went to the door. "I'm going to 
make you a bed in the loom shed like I made it for the doc- 
tor. There is no bed up garret now. I emptied out all 
the ticks and thought I'd have them fresh filled against 
you come back — but I've been that busy." 

Soon he followed her out. "I reckon I won't sleep 
thar whar that doctah have slep'. He might put a spell 
on me, too," he said, standing in the door of the shed and 
looking in on her. The night was lighter now, for the 
full moon had glided up over the hills, and she worked 
by its light streaming though the open door. 

"I can't see with you standing there, Frale. I reckon 
you'll have to sleep here, because it's too late to fill your 
bed to-night." 

"Oh, leave that be and come and sit here with me," 
he said, dropping on the step where the doctor had sat 
when she opened her heart to him and told him about 
her father. It all surged back upon her now. She 
could not sit there with Frale. "I'll make my bed my- 
self, an' I'll — I'll sleep wharevah you want me to, ef hit's 
up on the roof or out yandah in the water trough. Come, 
sit." 

"We'll go back on the porch, and I'll take mother's 
chair. I'm right tired." 

"When we git in our own cabin ovah t'othah side 
Lone Pine, you won't have nothin' to do only tend 
on me," he said, drawing her to him. He led her 
across the open space and placed her gently in her 
mother's chair on the little porch. 

"Now, Frale, sit down there and listen," she said, 
pointing to the step at her feet where Thryng had sat only 
a few days before to make out the lease of their land. 
Everything seemed to cry out to her of him to-night, but 
she must steel her heart against the thought. 

"I'm going to talk to you straight, just what I mean, 
Frale. You've been talking as you pleased in there, and I 
'lowed you to, I was that set back. Anyway, I'd rather 



160 The Mountain Girl 

talk to you alone. Frale, our promise was made before 
God, and you know I will keep to mine. But you 
must keep to yours, too. Listen at me. Mrs. Towers 
wrote me you had been drunk twice. Is that keeping 
your promise to leave whiskey alone ? Is it, Frale ? " 

"You have somebody down thar watchin' me, an' I 
hain't nobody a-watchin' you," he said sullenly. She 
felt degraded by his words. 

"Frale, do you know me all these years to think such , 
as that of me now ? " 

"I tell you he have put a spell on you. I kin feel hit 
an' see hit. Hit ain't your fault, Cass. I'd put one on 
you myself, ef I could. Anyhow, I'll take you out of this 
fer he have done hit." 

"Do you never say that word to me again as long as you 
live, Frale," she said sternly. " Listen at me, I say. 
You go back there and work like you said you would — " 

"Didn't I tell you that thar houn' dog Giles Teasley 
war on my scent ? I seen him. I got to come back 
ontwell I c'n git shet o' him." 

"And that means another murder ! Oh, Frale, Frale !" 
She covered her face with her hands and moaned. Then 
they sat silent awhile. 

After a little she lifted her head. "Frale, I'll go over 
to Teasleys' and beg for them to leave you be. I'll 
beg Giles Teasley on my knees, I will. Then when you 
have bided your year and kept your promise like you swore 
before God, I'll marry you like I promised, and we'll 
live here and keep the old place like it ought to be kept. 
You hear, Frale ? Good night, now. It's only fair you 
should give heed to me, Frale, if I do that for you. 
Good night." 

She glided past him into the house like a wraith, and 
he rose without a word of reply and stretched himself 
on the half-made bed in the loom shed, as he was. Sullen 
and angry, he lay far into the night with the moonlight 
streaming over him, but he did not sleep, and his mood 
only grew more bitter and dangerous. 

When the first streak of dawn was drawn across the 
eastern sky, he rose unrefreshed, and began a search, feel- 
ing along the rafters high above the bags of cotton. Pres- 
ently he drew forth an ancient, long-barrelled rifle, and, 



Frale Returns 161 

taking it out into the light, examined it carefully. He 
rubbed and cleaned the barrel and polished the stock 
and oiled the hammer and trigger. Then he brought 
from the same hiding-place a horn of powder and gun 
wadding, and at last took from his pocket the silver bullet, 
with which he loaded his old weapon even as he had seen 
it charged in past days by his father's hand. 

Below the house, built over a clear v*^elling spring which 
ran in a bright little rivulet to the larger stream, was the 
spring-house. Here, after the warm days came, the 
milk and butter were kept, and here Frale sauntered 
down — his gun slung across his arm, his powder-horn at 
his belt, in his old clothes — with his trousers thrust in 
his boot-tops — to search for pro\'isions for the day and his 
breakfast as well. He had no mind to allow the family 
to oppose his action or reason him out of his course. 

He found a jug of buttermilk placed there the evening 
before for Hoyle to carry to the doctor in the morning, and 
slung it by a strap over his shoulder. In one of the sheds 
lay two chickens, ready dressed to be cut up for the frying- 
pan, and one of these, with a generous strip of salt 
pork from the keg of dry salt where it was kept, he 
dropped in a sack. He would not enter the house 
for corn-bread, even though he knew he was welcome to 
all the home afforded, but planned to arrive at some 
mountain cabin where friends would give him what he 
required to complete his stock of food. His gun would 
provide him. with an occasional meal of game, and he thus 
felt himself prepared for as long a period of ambush as 
might be necessary. 

Before sunrise he was well on his way over the mountain. 
He did not attempt to go directly to his old haunt, but 
turned aside and took the trail leading along the ridge — the 
same Thryng and Cassandra had taken to go to the cabin of 
Decatur Irwin. Frale had no definite idea of going there, 
but took the high ridge instinctively. So long had he been 
in the low country that he craved now to reach the heights 
where he might see the far blue distances and feel the 
strong sweet air blowing past him. It was much the 
same feeling that had caused him to thrust his head under 
the trough of running water the evening before. 

As a wild creature loves the freedom of the plains, or 



162 The Mountain Girl 

an eagle rises and circles about in the blue ether aimless 
and untrammelled, so this man of the hills moved now in 
his natural environment, living in the present moment, 
glad to be above the low levels and out from under all 
restraint, seeing but a little way into his future, content 
to satisfy present needs and the cravings of his strong, 
virile body. 

Moments of exaltation and aspiration came to him, 
as they must come to every one, but they were moments 
only, and were quickly swept aside and but vaguely com- 
prehended by him. As a child will weep one minute 
over some creature his heedlessness has hurt and the 
next forget it al^ in the pursuit of some new delight, so 
this child of nature took his way, swayed by his moods 
and desires — an elemental force, like a swollen torrent 
taking its vengeful way — forgetful of promises — glad 
of freedom — angry at being held in restraint, and will- 
ing to crush or tear away any opposing force. 

At last, breakfastless and weary after his long climb, 
his sleepless night, and the depression following his talk 
with Cassandra the evening before, he paused at the edge 
of the descent, loath to leave the open height behind him, 
and stretched himself under a great black cedar to rest. 
As he lay there dreaming and scheming, with half-shut 
eyes, he spied below him the bare red patch of soil around 
the cabin of Decatur Irwin. Instantly he rose and be- 
gan rapidly to descend. 

Decatur was away. He had got a "job of hauling,'* 
his wife said, and had to be away all day, but she willingly 
set herself to bake a fresh corn-cake and make him coffee. 
He had already taken a little of his buttermilk, but he 
did not care for raw salt pork alone. He wanted his 
corn-bread and coffee, — the staple of the mountaineer. 

She talked much, in a languid way, as she worked, and 
he sat in the doorway. Now and then she asked questions 
about his home and *'Cassandry," which he answered 
evasively. She gossiped much about all the happenings 
and sayings of her neighbors far and near, and com- 
plained much, when she came to take pay from him for 
what she provided, of the times which had come upon 
them since *'Cate had hurt his foot." She told how 
that fool doctor had come there and taken "hit off. 



Frale Returns 163 

makin' out like Cate'd die of hit ef he didn't," and how 
"Cassandry Merlin had done cheated her into goin' off 
so 't she could bide thar at the cabin alone with that 
doctah man herself an' he'p him do hit." 

With her snuff stick between her yellow teeth and her 
numerous progeny squatting in the dirt all about the door- 
way, idly gazing at Frale, she retailed her grievances with- 
out reserve. How the wife of Hoke Belew had been 
"ailin'," and Cassandra had *' be'n thar ev'y day 
keerin' fer her. I 'low she jes' goes 'cause she 'lows 
she'll see that doctah man thar an' ride back with him 
like she done when she brung him here," said the pallid, 
spiteful creature, and spat as she talked. "She nevah 
done that fer me. I be'n sick a heap o' times, an' she 
hain't nevah come nigh me to do a lick." 

Frale was annoyed to hear Cassandra thus spoken 
against, for was she not his own ? He chose to defend 
her, while purposely concealing his bitter anger against the 
doctor. " The' hain't nothin' agin Cassandry. She's 
sorter kin to me, an' I 'low the' hain't." 

"Naw," said the woman, changing instantly at the 
threatening tone, " the' hain't nothin' agin her. I 
reckon he tells her whar to go, an' she jes' goes like he 
tells her." 

Frale threw his sack over his shoulder and started on 
in silence, and the woman smiled evilly after him as she 
sat there and licked her lips, and chewed on her snuff 
stick and spat. 



CHAPTER XVII r 

IN WHICH DAVID THRYNG MEETS AN ENEMY 

The next day David gave his attention to the letters 
which he found awaiting him. One was from Doctor 
Hoyle in Canada. He had but just returned from a visit 
to England, and it was full of news of David's family 
there. 

"Your two cousins and your brother are gone with 
their regiments to South Africa," he wrote. "They are 
jubilant to be called to active service, as they ought to 
be, but your mother is heartbroken over their departure. 
You stay where you are, my boy. She is glad enough 
to have you out of England now, and far from the 
temptation which besets youth in times of war. It 
has already caused a serious blood-letting for Old Eng- 
land. I have grave doubts about this contention. In 
these days there ought to be a way of preventing such 
disaster. Write to your mother and comfort her heart, 
— she needs it. I was careful not to betray to her what 
your condition has been, as I discovered you had not 
done so. Hold fast and fight for health, and be content. 
Your recuperative power is good.'* 

David was filled with contrition as he opened his 
mother's letter, which was several weeks old and had 
come by way of Canada, since she did not know he had 
gone South. For some time he had sent home only 
casual notes, partly to save her anxiety, and partly be- 
cause writing was irksome to him unless he had some- 
thing particularly pleasant to tell her. His plans and 
actions had been so much discussed at home and he had 
been considered so censurably odd — so different from 
his relatives and friends in his opinions, and so impossible 
of comprehension (which branded him in his own circle 
as being quite at fault) — that he had long ago abandoned 

164 



David meets an Enemy 165 

all effort to make himself understood by them, and had 
retired behind his mask of reserve and silence to pursue 
his own course undisturbed. Thus, at best, an occasional 
perfunctory letter that all was well with him was the sum 
total of news they received. Thryng had no money 
anxieties for his family. The needs of his mother and his 
sister — not yet of age — were amply provided for by a 
moderate annuity, while his brother had his position in 
the army, and help from his uncle besides. For himself, 
he had saved enough, with his simple tastes and much 
hard work, to tide him over this period of rest. 

David sat now and turned his mother's letter over and 
over. He read and reread it. It was verv sad. Her 
splendid boys both gone from her, one possibly never to 
return — neither of them married and with no hope of 
grandchildren to solace her declining years. "Stay 
where you are, David," she wrote; "Doctor Hoyle tells 
us you are doing well. Don't, oh, don't enter the army ! 
One son I have surrendered to my country's service; 
let me feel that I still have one on whom I may depend 
to care for Laura and me in the years to come. We do 
not need you now, but some day we may." 

David's quandary was how to give her as much of his 
confidence as filial duty required without betrajdng him- 
self so far as to arouse the antagonistic comment of her 
immediate circle upon his course. 

At last he found a way. Telling her he did not know 
how soon he might return to Canada, he requested her 
to continue to address him there. He then filled his 
letter with loving thoughts for her and Laura, and a humor- 
ous description of what he had seen and experienced in 
the "States" and the country about him, all so foreign 
and utterly strange to her as to be equal to a small manu- 
script romance. It was a cleverly written letter, so hiding 
the vital matters of his soul, which he could not reveal 
even to the most loving scrutiny, that all her motherly 
intuition failed to read between the lines. The humorous 
portions she gave to the rector's wife, — her most intimate 
friend, — and the dear son's love expressed therein she 
treasured in her heart and was comforted. 

Then David rode away up the mountain without 
descending to his little farm. He craved to get far into 



166 The Mountain Girl 

the very heart of the wildest parts, for with the letters 
the old conventional and stereotyped ideals seemed to 
have intruded into his cabin. 

He passed the home of Hoke Belew and stopped there 
to see that all was well with them. The rose vine covering 
the porch roof was filled with pink blossoms, hundreds 
of them swinging out over his head. The air was sweet 
with the odor of honeysuckle. The old locust tree would 
soon be alive with bees, for it was already budded. He 
took the baby in his arms and saw that its cheeks were 
growing round and plump, and that the young mother 
looked well and happy, and he was glad. 

"Take good care of them, Hoke; they are worth it," 
he said to the young father, as he passed him coming in 
from the field. 

"I will that," said the man. 

"Can you tell me how to reach a place called *Wild 
Cat Hole' '^ I have a fancy to do a little exploring." 

"Waal, hit's sorter round about. I don't guess ye c'n 
find hit easy." The man spat as if reluctant to give the 
information asked, which only stimulated David all the 
more to find the spot. 

"Keep right on this way, do 1?'^ 

"Yas, you keep on fer a spell, an' then you turn to th' 
right an' foller the stream fer a spell, an' you keep on 
follerin' hit off an' on till you git thar. Ye'll know hit 
when you do git thar, but th' still's all broke up." 

"Oh, I don't care a rap about the still." 

"Naw, I reckon not. Better light an' have dinner 
'fore you go on. Azalie, keep the doc to dinner. I'm 
comin' in a minute," he called to his wife, who stood 
smiling in the doorway. 

David willingly accepted the proffered hospitality, as 
he had often done before, knowing it would be well after 
nightfall ere he could return to his cabin, and rode back 
to the house. 

While Azalea prepared dinner, Hoke sat in the open 
door and held his baby and smoked. David took a splint- 
bottomed chair out on the porch and smoked with him, 
watching pleasantly the pride of the young father, who 
allowed the tiny fist to close tightly around his great 
work-roughened finger. 



David meets an Enemy 167 

"Look a-tliar now. See that hand. Hit ain't bigger'n 
a bumble-bee, an' see how he km hang on." 

"Yes," said David, absently regarding them. "He's 
a fine boy." 

"He sure is. The' hain't no finer on this mountain." 

Azalea came and looked down over her husband's shoul- 
der. "Don't do that-a-way, Hoke. You'll wake him up, 
bobbin' his arm up an' down like you a-doin'. Hoke, 
he's that proud, you can't touch him." 

"You hear that. Doc .'^ Azalie, she's that sot on him 
she's like to turn me outen the house fer jes' lookin' at him. 
She 'lows he'll grow up a preacher, on account o' the way 
he kin holler an' thrash with his fists, but I tell her hit 
hain't no thin' but madness an' devilment 'at gits in him." 

With a mother's superior smile playing about her lips, 
she glanced understandingly at David, and went on with 
her cooking. As they came in to the table, she called 
David's attention to a low box set on rockers, and, taking 
the baby from her husband's arms, carefully placed him, 
still asleep, in the quaint nest. 

"Hoke made that hisself," she said with pride. "And 
Cassandry, she made that kiver." 

Tliryng touched the cover reverently, bending over it, 
and left the cradle rocking as he sat down at Hoke's side 
and began to put fresh butter between his hot biscuit, 
as he had learned to do. His mother would have flung 
up her hands in horror had she seen him doing this, or 
could she have known how many such he had devoured 
since coming to recuperate in these mountain wilds. 

The home was very bare and simple, but sweet and clean, 
and love was in it. To sit there for a while with the child- 
like young couple, enjoying their home and their baby 
and the hospitality generously offered according to their 
ability, warmed David's heart, and he rode away happier 
than he came. 

With mind absorbed and idle rein, he allowed his horse 
to stray as he would, while his thoughts and memory 
played strange tricks, presenting contrasting pictures to 
his inward vision. Now it was his mother reading by 
the evening lamp, carelessly scanning a late magazine, 
only half interested, her white hair arranged in shining 
puffs high on her head, and soft lace — old lace — falling 



168 The Mountain Girl 

from open sleeves over her shapely arms ; and Laura, 
red-cheeked and plump, curled, feet and all, in a great 
lounging chair, poring over a novel and yawning now and 
then, her dark hair carelessly tied, with straight, straying 
ends hanging about her face as he had many a time seen 
her after playing a game of hockey with her active, romp- 
ing friends. 

His mother and Laura were the only ones at home now, 
since the big elder brother was gone. Of course they would 
miss him and be sad sometimes, but Laura would enjoy life 
as much as ever and keep the home bright with youth. 
Even as he thought of them, the room faded and his own 
cabin appeared as he had seen it the day before, through 
the open window, with Cassandra moving about in her 
quiet, gliding way, haloed with light. Again he would see 
a picture of another room, all white and gold, with slight 
French chairs and tables, and couches and cushions, and 
candelabra of quivering crystals, with pale green walls 
and gold-framed paintings, and a great, three-cornered 
piano, massive and dark, where a slight, fair girl sat idly 
playing tinkling music in keeping with herself and the room, 
but quite out of keeping with the splendid instrument. 

He saw people all about her, chatting, laughing, sipping 
tea, and eating thin bread and butter. He saw, as if from 
a distance, another man, himself, in that room, standing 
near the piano to turn her music, while the tinkling runs 
and glib, expressionless trills wove in and out, a ceaseless 
nothing. 

She spent years learning to do that, he thought, and any 
amount of money. Oh, well. She had it to spend, and 
of what else were they capable — those hands ? He could 
see them jfluttering caressingly over the keys, pink, slender, 
pretty, — and then he saw other hands, somewhat work- 
worn, not small nor yet too large, but white and shapely. 
Ah ! Of what were they not capable ? And the other 
girl in coarse white homespun, seated before the fire in 
Hoke Belew's cabin, holding in her arms the small bundle 
— and her smile, so rare and fleeting ! 

He saw again the handsome sullen youth in Bishop 
Towers' garden, regarding him over the hedge with 
narrowed eyes, and his whole nature rebelled and cried out 
as before, "What a waste !" Why should he allow it to 



David meets an Enemy 169 

go on ? He must thrash this thing out once for all before . 
he returned to his cabin — the right and the wrong of 
the case before he should see her again, while as yet he 
could be engineer of his own forces and hold his hand on 
the throttle to guide himself safely and wisely. 

Could he succeed in influencing her to set her young 
lover's claims one side ? But in his heart he knew if such 
a thing were possible, she would not be herself ; she would 
be another being, and his love for her would cease. No, 
he must see her but little, and let the tragedy go on even as 
the bishop had said — go on as if he never had known her. 
As soon as possible he must return and take up his work 
where he could not see the slow wreck of her life. A heavy 
dread settled down upon him, and he rode on with bowed 
head, until his horse stumbled and thus roused him from 
his re very. 

To what wild spot had the animal brought him ? David 
lifted his head and looked about him, and it was as if he 
had been caught up and dropped in an enchanted wood. 
The horse had climbed among great boulders and paused 
beneath an enormous overhanging rock. He heard, 
off at one side, the rushing sound of a mountain stream 
and judged he was near the head of Lone Pine Creek. 
But oh, the wildness of the spot and the beauty of it and 
the lonely charm ! He tied his horse to a lithe limb that 
swung above his head and, dismounting, clambered on 
towards the rushing water. 

The place was so screened in as to leave no vista any- 
where, hiding the mountains on all sides. Light green 
foliage overhead, where branches thickly interlaced from 
great trees growing out of the bank high above, made a 
cool, lucent shadowiness all around him. There was a 
delicious odor of sweet-shrub in the air, and the fruity 
fragrance of the dark, wild wake-robin underfoot. The 
tremendous rocks were covered with the most exquisite 
forms of lichen in all their varied shades of richness and 
delicacy. 

He began carefully removing portions here and there 
to examine under his microscope, when he noticed, almost 
crushed under his foot, a pale purple orchid like the one 
Cassandra had placed on his table. Always thinking of her, 
he stooped suddenly to lift the frail thing, and at the instant 



170 The Mountain Girl 

a rifle-shot rang out in the still air, and a bullet meant 
for his heart cut across his shoulders like a trail of fire and 
flattened itself on the rock where he had been at work. 
At the same moment, with a bound of tiger-like ferocity 
and swiftness, one leaped toward him from a near mass 
of laurel, and he found himself grappling for life or death 
with the man who fired the shot. 

Not a word was spoken. The quick, short breathing, 
the scufiling of feet among the leaves, and the snapping 
of dead twigs underfoot were the only sounds. Had the 
youth been a trained wrestler, David would have known 
what to expect, and would have been able to use method 
in his defence. As it was, he had to deal with an enraged 
creature who fought with the desperate instinct of an 
antagonist who fights to the death. He knew that the 
odds were against him, and felt rising within him a wild 
determination to win the combat, and, thinking only of 
Cassandra, to settle thus the vexed question, to fight with 
the blind passion and the primitive right of the strongest ■ 
to win his mate. He gathered all his strength, his good 
English mettle and nerve, and grappled with a grip of steel. ; 

This way and that, twisting, turning, stumbling on the 
uneven ground, with set teeth and faces drawn and fierce, , 
they struggled, and all the time the light tweed coat on i 
David's back showed a deeper stain from his heart's blood, 
and his face grew paler and his breath shorter. Yet a 
joy leaped within him. It was thus he might save her, 
either to win her or to die for her, for should Frale kill 
him, she would turn from him in hopeless horror, and 
David, even in dying, would save her. 

Suddenly the battle was ended. Thryng's foot turned, 
on a rounded stone, causing him to lose his foothold. At 
the same instant, with terrible forward impetus, Frale 
closed with him, bending him backward until his head 
struck the lichen-covered rock. The purple orchid was 
bruised beneath him, and its color deepened with his 
blood. Then Frale rose and looked down upon the pallid, 
upturned face and inert body, which lay as he had crushed 
it down. As he stood thus, a white figure, bareheaded and 
alone, came swiftly through the wall of laurel which hid 
them and pausing terror-stricken in the open space, looked 
from one to the other. 




" / take it back - back fi'om God- the promise I gave you 
there by thefaiiy Page 171. 



David meets an Enemy 171 

For an instant Cassandra waited thus, as if she too were 
struck dead where she stood. Then she looked no more 
on the fallen man, but only at Frale, with eyes immovable 
and yet withdrawn, as if she were searching in her own 
soul for a thing to do, while her heart stood still and her 
throat closed. Those great gray eyes, with the green sea 
depths in them, began to glow with a cruel light, as if she 
too could kill, — as if they were drawing slowly from the 
deep well of her being, as it were, a sword from its scab- 
bard wherewith to cut him through the heart. Her hand 
stole to her throat and pressed hard. Then she lifted it 
high above her head and held it, as if in an instant more 
one might see the invisible sword flash forth and strike 
him. Frale cried out then, "Don't, don't curse me, Cass,'* 
and lifted his arm to shield his face, while great beads of 
moisture stood out on his face. 

"It's not for me to curse, Frale." Her voice was low 
and clear. "Curses come from hell, like what you been 
carrying in your heart that made you do this." Her 
voice grew louder, and her hand trembled and shut as if it 
grasped something. "I take it back — back from God — 
the promise I gave you there by the fall." Then, looking 
up, her voice grew low again, though still distinct. "I 
take that promise back forever, oh, God ! " Her hand 
dropped. The cruel light died slowly out of her eyes> and 
she turned and knelt by the prostrate man, and began 
pulling open his coat. Frale took one step toward her. 

"Cass," he said, with shaking voice, "I'll he'p you." 

Her hands clinched into David's coat as she held it. 
"Go back. Don't you touch even his least finger," she 
cried, looking up at him from where she knelt like a crea- 
ture hurt to the heart, defending its own. "You've done 
your work. Take your face where I never can see it 
again," 

He still stood and looked down on her. She turned 
again to David, and, thrusting her hand into his bosom, 
drew it forth with blood upon it. 

"I say, you Frale !" she cried, holding it toward him, 
quivering with the ferocity she could no longer restrain, 
"leave here, or with this blood on my hand I'll call all 
hell to curse you." 

Frale turned with bowed head and left her there. 




CHAPTER XVIII 

IN WHICH DAVID THRYNG AWAKES 

Thryng lay in Hoke Belew's cabin, — not in the one 
great living-room where were the fireplace and the large 
bed and the tiny cradle, but in the smaller addition at 
the side, entered only from the porch which extended 
along the front of both parts. 

He still lay on the litter upon which he had been placed 
to carry him down the mountain, — an improvised thing 
made by stretching quilts across two poles of slender 
green pines. The litter was placed on low trestles to raise 
it from the floor, and close to the open door to give him 
air. David had not regained consciousness since his hurt, 
but lay like one dead, with closed eyes and blanched lips ; 
yet they knew him to be living. 

Cassandra sat beside him alone. All night long she had 
been there unsleeping, hollow-eyed, and worn with tearless 
grief. She had done all she knew how to do. Before going 
for help she had removed his clothing and bound about 
his body strips torn from her dress to stop the bleeding 
of his shoulders where the silver bullet had torn across 
them. How the ball had missed giving a mortal wound 
was like a miracle. 

Hoke Belew had tried to arouse him, but had failed. 
At intervals, during the night, Cassandra had managed 
to drop a little whiskey between his lips with a spoon, 
and she had bathed him with the stimulant over heart and 
lungs, and chafed his hands, and had tried to warm his 
feet by rubbing them and wrapping them up between 
jugs of hot water. She had bathed his bruised head and 
cut away the softly curling hair from the spot where his 
head had struck the rock. What more she could do she 
knew not, and now she sat at his side still chafing his hands 
and waiting for Hoke Belew's return. 

Hoke had gone to the station to telegraph for Bishop 

172 



David Thryng Awakes 173 

Towers;' Fortunately, as the hotel was so soon to be 
QP^ned ^nd the busy summer life to begin, the operator 
was. already there. 

Azalea, in the great room, was preparing dinner, stop- 
ping now and then to touch her baby's cradle, or to stoop 
a moment over the treasure therein. Aunt Sally sat in the 
doorway smoking her cob pipe and telling grewsome tales 
of how she had "seen people hurted that-a-way and nevah 
come out en hit." Sally had ridden over to give help and 
sympathy, but Cassandra had said she would watch alone. 
She had eaten nothing since the day before, only sipping 
the coffee Azalea had brought her. 

It was one of those breathless hours before a rain when 
not a leaf stirs ; even the birds were silent. Cassandra 
tried once more to give David a few drops of the whiskey, 
and this time it seemed as if he swallowed a little. She 
thought she saw his eyelids quiver, and her heart pounded 
suffocatingly in her breast. She dropped beside him on 
her knees and once again tried to give him the only stimu- 
lant they had. This time she was sure he took it, and, 
still kneeling there, she bowed her head and pressed her 
lips upon the hand she had been chafing. Did it move or 
not ? She could not tell, and again she sat gazing in the 
still, white face. Oh, the suspense ! Oh, the joy that 
was agony ! If this were truly the awakening and meant 
life ! In her intensity of longing for some further signs 
she drew slowly nearer and nearer, until at last her lips 
touched his. Then in shame she hid her face in the quilt 
at his side and, weak with the exhaustion of her long an- 
guish and fasting and watching, she wept the first tears 
— tears of hope she was not strong enough to bear. As 
she thus knelt, weeping softly, his fluttering eyelids lifted 
and he saw her there, and felt the quivering hand beneath 
his head. 

Not understanding how or why this should be, he waited 
perfectly still, trying to gather his thoughts. A great 
peace was in his heart — a peace and content so sweet he 
did not wish to move. Lingering beneath this content, 
he held a dim memory of a great anger — a horror of anger, 
when he saw red, and hungered for blood. Vaguely it 
seemed to him now that all was as he wished it to be with 
Cassandra near. He liked to feel her hand beneath his 



174 The Mountain Girl 

head and her other hand upon his own, and her heavy 
bronze hair so close, and he closed his eyes once more to 
shut out all else, for the room was strange to him — this 
raftered place all whitewashed from ceiling to floor. 

He had forgotten what had happened, but Cassandra 
was there, and he was content. Something had touched 
his lips and brought him back, he was sure of that, and his 
weakly beating heart stirred to more vigorous action. He 
turned his head a little, a very little, toward her, and his fin- 
gers closed about her hand to hold it there. She lifted her 
head then, and they looked into each other's eyes, a long, deep 
look. Later, when Azalea entered, she found them both 
sleeping, Cassandra's hand still beneath his head, his face 
pressed to her soft hair and his free arm flung about her. 

Azalea stole away and hurried with the news to old 
Sally, who also crept in and looked on them and stole away. 

"Yas, she sure have saved his life," said Sally. "Heap 
o' times they nevah do come out en that thar kin' o' sleep. 
I done seed sech before." 

" Ef he have come to hisself, you reckon I bettah wake 
'em up and give her a lee tie hot milk? She hain't eat 
nothin' sence yestiday." 

" Naw, leave 'em be. No body nevah hain't starved in 
his sleep yit, I reckon." 

"He hain't eat nothin', neithah. He sure have been 
bad hurted." 

The two women sat in the large room and talked in low 
tones, while at intervals Azalea crept to the door and 
looked in on them. 

At last the baby wailed out with lusty cry, which 
sounded through the stillness of the house and roused 
Cassandra, but as she lifted her head, David clung to her 
and drew her cheek to his lips. 

"Are you hurt V he murmured. In some strange way 
he had confused matters, and thought it was she who had 
been shot. 

"It's not me that's hurt," she said tenderly. 

Azalea hurried away and returned w4th the warm milk 
she had prepared for Cassandra, who took it and held it 
to David's lips. 

"Drink it, Doctah. She won't touch anything till you 
do." 



David Thryng Awakes 175 

Then he obeyed, slowly drinking it all, his eyes fixed 
on Cassandra's as a child looks up to his mother. As she 
rose, he held her with his free hand. 

"What is it.'' How long — " His voice sounded thin 
and weak. ''Strange — I can't lift this arm at all. Tell 



me — 



" Seems like I can't. When you are strong again, I will." 

Feebly he tried to raise himself. "Don't, oh, don't, 
Doctah Thryng. If you bleed again, you'll die," she 
wailed. 

"Sit near me." 

She drew a low chair and sat near him, as she had through 
the slow and anxious hours, and again he drowsed off, only 
to open his eyes from time to time as if to assure himself 
that she was still there. Again Azalea brought her milk 
and white beaten biscuit, hot and sweet, and Cassandra 
ate. When David opened his eyes to look at her, she 
smiled on him, but would not let him talk to her. 

Nevertheless his mind was busy trying to understand 
why he was lying thus, and dimly the events of the last 
few days came back to him, shadowy and confused. 
When he looked up and saw her smile, his heart was satis- 
fied, but when he closed his eyes again, a strange sense of 
tragedy settled down upon him, but what or v/hy he knew 
not. Suddenly he called to her as if from his sleep, "Have 
I killed some one ? " and there was horror in his voice. 

"No, no, Doctor Thryng. You been nigh about killed 
3^ourself. Oh, why didn't I send for a doctor who could 
do you right ! Bishop Towers won't know anything about 
this." 

"What have you done ?'* 

"I sent for Bishop Towers." 

" Who did me up like this ? " 

She was silent and, rising quickly, stepped out on the 
porch, her cheeks flaming crimson. Yesterday in her 
terror and frenzy she could have done anything ; but now 
— with his eyes fixed on her face so intently — she could 
not reply nor tell how, alone, she had stripped him to the 
waist and bound him about with the homespun cotton of 
her dress to stanch the bleeding before hurrying down the 
mountain for help. 

Instinctively she had done the right thing and had done 



176 The Mountain Girl 

it well, but now she could not talk about it. David tried 
to call after her, but she had gone around into the next room 
and taken the baby from his cradle, where he was wailing 
his demands for attention. Azalea had gone out for a 
moment, and Aunt Sally " 'lowed the' wa'n't no use sp'ilin 
him by takin' him up every time he fretted fer hit. Hit 
would do him good to holler an' stretch." So she sat still 
and smoked. 

Cassandra walked up and down the porch, comforted 
by the feeling of the child in her arms. The small head 
bobbed this way and that until she pressed it against her 
cheek and held him close, and he gradually settled down 
on her bosom, his face tucked softly in the curve of her 
neck, and slept. She heard David speaking her name and 
went to him, but he only looked up at her and smiled. 

"I'm sorry I left you alone," she said tenderly; "I'll call 
Aunt Sally." ^ 

"No — wait — I only want — to look at you." 

She stood swaying her lithe body to rock the sleeping 
child. David thought he never had seen anything lovelier. 
How serious his wounds were, he did not know. But one 
thing he knew well, and to that one thought he clung. He 
wanted Cassandra where he could see her all the time. He 
wished she would talk to him, and not let him lose con- 
sciousness, relapsing into the horror of a strange dream that 
continued to haunt him. 

"Do you love that baby ?" he asked, his voice faint and 
high. 

"He's a right nice baby." 

" I say — do you love him ? " 

"Why — I reckon I do. Don't try to move that way, 
Doctah. You may not be done right, and you'll bleed 
again. Oh, we don't know — we are so ignorant — 
Azalie and me — " 

He smiled. "Nothing matters now," he said. 

They heard voices, and she looked out from the doorway. 
"It's Hoke. They've sent old Doctor Bartlett. I'm so 
glad. Aunt Sally, I reckon they'll need hot water. Get 
some ready, will you ? " 

" Cassandra, Cassandra ! " called David, almost irritably. 

She came back to him. 
Where are they ?** 



a ■ 



David Thryng Awakes 177 

"Down the road a piece. I'm glad. You'll be done 
right now." 

"Stoop to me." She obeyed, and the free arm caught 
and held her, then, as the voices drew near, released her 
with glowing eyes and burning cheeks. 

She stepped out on the porch to meet them, half hiding 
her face behind the babe in her arms, and old Dr. Bartlett, 
as he looked on her with less prejudiced and more expe- 
rienced eyes, thought he too never had seen anything 
lovelier. 

"He's awake," said Cassandra quietly to Hoke, and the 
two men went to David. She carried the child back and 
asked Aunt Sally to wait on them, while she sat down in a 
low splint rocker, clinging to the little one and listening, 
with throbbing nerves, to the voices in the room beyond. 

When Hoke came out to them a moment later, Azalea 
began eagerly to question him, but Cassandra was silent. 

"Doctah says we bettah tote 'im ovah to his own place 
to-day. Aunt Sally 'lows she can bide thar fer a while an' 
see him well again." 

"You hain't goin' to 'low that, be ye, Hoke? Hit 
mount look like we wa'n't willin' fer him to bide 'long of us." 

"Hit hain't what looks like, hit's what's best fer him,'* 
said Hoke, sagely. "Whatevah doctah says, we'll do." 
Then Hoke laughed quietly. "He done tol' Doctor 
Bartlett 'at he reckoned somebody mus' 'a' took him fer 
some sorter wild creetur an' shot him by mistake. I 
guess Frale's safe enough f'om him, if the fool boy only 
know'd hit." 

"Frale, he's plumb crazy, the way he's b'en actin'," 
said Azalea. 

"An' Bishop Towahs he telegrafted 'at he'd send this 
here doctah, an' he'd come up to-morrer with Miz Towahs 
to stop ovah with you, so I reckon yer maw wants you 
down thar, Cass." 

Cassandra rose quickly and placed the sleeping child 
gently in his cradle box. "I'll go," she said. "There's 
no need for me here now. Hoke — you've been right 
good — " She stopped abruptly and turned to his wife. 
"I must wear your dress off, Azalie, but I'll send it back 
by Hoke as soon as hit's been washed." She went out the 
door almost as if she were eager to escape. 



178 The Mountain Girl 

"Hain't ye goin* to wait fer yer horse?" said Hoke, 
laughing. *'Set a minute till I fetch him." 

*'I clean forgot," she said, and when he had left, she 
turned to her friend. "Azalie — don't say anything to 
Hoke about me — us. Did Aunt Sally see .^ You know I 
didn't know myself until I woke and found myself there. 
I'd been trying to make him take a little whiskey — and — 
I must have gone asleep like I was — and he woke up and 
must 'a' felt like he had to kiss somebody — he was that 
glad to be alive." 

"Nevah you fret, child." Azalea smiled a quiet smile. 
*'I'm not one to talk ; anyway, I reckon Doctah Thryng's 
about right. He sure have been good to me." 

The widow sat on her little stoop, waiting and watch- 
ing, as her daughter rode to the door and wearily alighted. 

"Cassandry Merlin! For the Lord's sake! What-all 
is up now ? Hoyle — where is that boy ? — Hoyle, come 
here an' take the horse fer sister. Be ye most dade, 
honey ? I reckon ye be. Ye look like hit." 

Cassandra kissed her mother and passed on into the 
house. *'I couldn't send you word last night; anyway, I 
reckoned you'd rest better if you didn't know, for we-all 
thought Doctor Thryng was sure killed. Did Hoke tell 
you this morning '^ " 

"I 'lowed you was stoppin' with Azalie — 'at baby was 
sick or somethin' — when Hoyle went up to the cabin an' 
said doctah wa'n't there. Frale sure have done for hisself . 
I reckon you are cl'ar shet o' him now, an' I'm glad ye be, 
since he done took to the idee o' marryin' with you. What- 
all have he done the doctah this-a-way fer ^ The' wa'n't 
nothin' 'twixt him an' doctah. Pore fool boy he ! I'll 
be glad fer yuer sake, Cass, if he'll quit these here 
mountains." 

"Oh, mother, mother! Don't talk about me, don't 
think of me ! The doctor's nigh about killed — let alone 
the sin Frale has on him now." Wearied beyond further 
endurance, she flung herself on her bed and broke into 
uncontrollable sobbing, while Hoyle stood in the middle 
of the room and gazed with wide-eyed wonder. 

"Be the doctah dade, maw?" he asked, in an awed 
whisper. 



David Thryng Awakes 179 



((' 



'No, child, no. You fetch a leetle light ud an* chips, an* 
we'll make her some coffee. Sister's that tired, pore child ! 
Have ye been up all night, Cass ? " 

She nodded her head and still sobbed on. 

"He's gettin' on all right now, be he ? " 

Again she nodded, but did not take her hands from her 
face. 

*'Then you'd ought to be glad. Hit ain't like Frale 
had of killed him. Farwell, he had many a time sech as 
that with one an' another, an' he nevah come to no harm 
f'om hit. I reckon Frale'll be safe. Be ye cryin' fer 
him, Cass ? Pore child ! I nevah did think you keered 
fer Frale that-a-way." 

Then Cassandra burst forth with impetuous fire. "Oh, 
mother, mother ! Never say that name to me again. 
IMother, I saw them ! I saw them fighting — and all 
the time the doctor was bleeding — bleeding and dying, 
where Frale had shot him. I don't know how long they'd 
been fighting, but I came there and I saw them. I saw 
him slip and how Frale crushed him down — down — 
and his head struck the rock. I saw — and I almost cursed 
Frale. I hope I didn't — oh, I hope not ! But mother, 
mother ! Don't ask me anything more now. Oh, I 
want to cry ! I want to cry and never stop." 

While she lay thus weeping, the soft rain that had been 
threatening all day began pattering down, blessed and 
soothing, the rain to the earth and the tears to the girl. 

In spite of the rain, Thryng was carried home that after- 
noon according to the physician's orders, and placed in his 
cabin with Aunt Sally to stand guard over him and provide 
for his wants. A bed was improvised for her on the floor 
of the cabin, while David lay in his own bed in his canvas 
room, bandaged about both body and head, and withal 
moderately comfortable, sufficiently himself to realize 
what had occurred, and overjoyed because of the reward 
his wounds had brought him. 

Doctor Bartlett came down to the Fall Place and was 
given the bed in the loom shed as David had been, and had 
the pleasure of again seeing Cassandra, who, her tears dried, 
and her manner composed, looked after his needs as if no 
storms had ever shaken her soul. 




CHAPTER XIX 

IN WHICH DAVID SENDS HOKE BELEW ON A COMMISSION, 
AND CASSANDRA MAKES A CONFESSION 

Early one morning Hoke Belew put his head in at the 
door of Thryng's cabin, where Aunt Sally was squatted 
before the fireplace, preparing breakfast for the patient. 

*' How's doc ?" he asked. 

"He's right fa'r. He mount be worse an' he mount be 
bettah." 

"You reckon I mount go in yandah whar he is at ? " 

"Ye can look an' see is he awake. I'm gittin' his hot 
bread an' coffee. You bettah bide an' have a leetle," she 
said, with ever ready hospitality. 

He crossed the floor with careful steps and paused in 
the doorway of the canvas room, big and smiling. 

"That you, Hoke .^ Come in," said David, cheerfully. 
He extended a hand which Hoke took in his and held 
aw^kwardly, shocked at the white face before him. 

"Ye do look puny," he said at last. "But we-uns sure 
be glad yer livin'. Ye tol' me to come early, so I come." 

"It's awfully good of you. Bring a chair and sit near, 
so we can talk a bit. Now, Hoke, laid up here as I am, I 
need your help. I want to send you to Farington or Lone 
Pine — somewhere — I don't know where such things are 
to be had — but, Hoke, you've been married and know all 
about what's needed here." 

"Ye want me to git ye a license, I reckon," said Hoke, 
grinning, "an' ye mount send me a errant I'd like a heap 
worse — that's so ; but what good will hit be to ye now ? 
You can't stan' on your feet." 

"I can put it under my pillow and keep it to get well on. 
See here, Hoke. I don't even know if she'll marry me; 
she has not said so, but I'll be ready. You'll keep this 
quiet for me, Hoke ? Because it would trouble her if the 
whole mountain side should know what I have done before 
she does. Yet a girl like Cassandra is worth winning if 

180 



Cassandra's Confession 181 

you have to go to the edge of the grave to do it, so when- 
ever she will have me, I want to be ready." 

They talked in low tones, Hoke leaning forward close 
to David, his elbows on his knees. '*I reckon you are 
a-thinkin' to bide on here 'long o' we-uns an' not carry her 
off nowhar else V^ he asked gravely. 

David's paleness left him for a moment, as the warm 
tide swept upward from his heart. "My home is not in 
this country, and wherever a man goes, he expects to take 
his wife with him. Don't you people here in the moun- 
tains do the same ? " 

*'I reckon so, but hit would nigh about kill Azalie if she 
war to lose Cass. They have been frien's evah sence they 
war littlin's." 

"Hoke, if you were to find it necessary to go away any- 
where, would you leave your wife behind to please Cas- 
sandra Merlin .f*" The man was silent, and David con- 
tinued. "Before you were married if you had known 
there was another man, and a criminal at that, hanging 
around determined to get her, wouldn't you have married 
her out of hand as soon as you could get her consent .? It's 
my opinion, knowing the sort of man you are, that you 
would." 

" I sure would." 

"Then you can understand why I wish to have a mar- 
riage license under my pillow." 

"I reckon so — but — you — you-all hain't quite our 
kind — not bein' kin to none of us — You understand me, 
suh. We-uns are a proud people here, an' we think a 
heap o' our women. Hit would be right hard should you 
git sorter tired o' Cassandry when you come to git her 
amongst your people — bein' she hain't like none o' your 
folks, understand; an' Cassandry, she's sorter hard hit 
jest now, she don't rightly know what-all she do think. 
Me an' Azalie, we been speakin' right smart together — 
an' — well, we do sure think a heap o' you, Doc — an' 
hit ain't no disrespect to you-uns, neither. Have you 
said anything to her maw ? " 

"Not a word. When I learned another man was before 
me, I stood one side as an honorable man should and gave 
him his chance. But when it comes to being attacked by 
the other man and shot in the back — by heaven ! no 



182 The Mountain Girl 

power on earth will hold me from trying to win her. As for 
the other matter, never you fear. Be my friend, Hoke.'* 

*'Waal, I reckon you'll have yer own way, an' I mount 
as well git hit fer ye, but I did promise Azalie 'at I'd speak 
that word to ye," said the young man, rising with an air of 
relief. 

"Tell your wife that you are both of you quite right, and 
that I am right also. Just hunt up my trousers, will you ? 
I want my pocket-book. If I have to sign anything before 
anybody — bring him here. I don't care what you do, so 
you get it. There, on that card you have it all — my full 
name and all that, you know." 

David tried to eat what Sally prepared for him, using 
his unbound hand; but his egg was hard, his coffee 
thick and boiled. He could not drink it very well for his 
head was too low, and he could not raise himself, so he 
lay silent and uncomfortable, watching her move about his 
rooms, wearing her great black sunbonnet. She appeared 
kindly and pleasant when he could see her face, which was 
thin and very much lined, but motherly and good. He 
fell in the way of calling her "Aunt Sally" as others did, 
and this seemed to please her. She treated him as if he 
were a big boy who did not know what was good for him- 
self. She called all the green blossoming things with 
which Cassandra had adorned the cabin, "trash," and 
asked who had "toted hit thar." 

Waiting and listening, sure Cassandra would not leave 
him all day without coming to him, even though Aunt 
Sally had taken him in charge, David's mind was full of 
her. If he closed his eyes, he saw her. If he opened them 
and watched Sally's meagre form and black sunbonnet 
moving about, he thought what it might be to see Cassan- 
dra there. 

He could not and would not look at the future. The 
picture Hoke Belew had summoned up when he had sug- 
gested the taking of Cassandra away among people alien 
to her, he put from him. He would not see it nor think of 
it. The present was his, and it was all he had, perhaps all 
he ever would have ; and now he would not allow one little 
joy of it to escape him. He would be greedy of it and have 
all the gladness of the moments as they came. 



Cassandra's Confession 18S 

He could see her down below making ready for their 
visitors, and he knew she would not come until the last 
task was done, but meantime his patience was wearing 
away. Aunt Sally finished her work, and David could 
see her from where he lay, seated in the doorway with her 
pipe, looking out on the gently falling rain. 

Without, all was very peaceful ; only within himself was 
turmoil and impatience. But he knew that to remain 
calm and unmoved was to keep back his fever and hasten 
recuperation, so he closed his eyes and tried to live for the 
moment in the remembrance of that awakening when he 
had found her kneeling at his side. Thus he dropped to 
sleep, and again, when he awoke, he found Cassandra there 
as if in answer to his silent call. 

She was seated quietly sewing, as if it were no unusual 
thing for her to visit him thus, and when his earnest gaze 
caused her to look up, she only smiled without pertur- 
bation and came to him. 

"I sent Aunt Sally down to see mother while I could 
stay by you and do for you a little,'' she said. 

Calm and restful she seemed, yet when he extended his 
free hand and took hers, he felt a tremor in her touch that 
delighted his heart. He brought it to his lips. 

*'I've been needing you all the morning. Aunt Sally 
has done everything — all she could. If I should let you 
have this hand again, would you go so far away from me 
that I could not reach you .^" 

*'Not if you want me near." 

"Then put away your sewing and bring your chair close 
to me, and let us talk together while we may." 

She obeyed and sat looking away from him out through 
the open door. Were her eyes searching for the mountain 
top ? 

"You have thoughts — sweet, big thoughts, dear girl; 
put them in words for me now, while we are so blessedly 
alone." 

"I can't say rightly what I think. Seems like if I had 
some other way — something besides words to tell my 
thoughts with, I could do it better ; but words are all we 
have — and seems like when I want them most they won't 



come." 



(( 



That's the way with all of us. Don't you see you are 



184 The Mountain Girl 

still beyond my reach ? Come. If you can't tell your 
thoughts in words, give them by the touch of your hands 
as you did a moment ago." 

She did as he bade her and, leaning forward, took his 
hand in both her own. 

"That's right. I'll teach you how to tell your thoughts 
without words. Now, how came you to find us the other 
day?" 

"I don't know myself. It was a strange way. First I 
rode down to Teasley's Mill to — to try to persuade them 
— Giles Teasley — to allow him to go free." She paused 
and put her hand to her throat, as her way was. "I think. 
Doctor Thryng, I'd better build up the fire and get you 
some hot milk. Doctor Bartlett said you must have it 
often — and — to keep you very quiet." 

"Not until you tell me now — this moment — what I 
ask you. You went to the mill to try to help Frale out of 
his trouble. Cassandra, have you loved that boy ?'* 

Her face assumed its old look of masklike impassivity. 
"I reckoned he might hold himself steady and do right — 
would they only leave him be — and give him the chance — " 

"Cassandra, answer me. Was it for love of him that 
you gave him your promise ? " 

Her face grew white, and for a moment she bowed her 
head on his hand. 

"Please, Doctor Thryng, let me tell you the strange part 
first, then you can answer that question in your own way." 
She lifted her head and looked steadily in his eyes. "You 
remember that day we went to Cate Irwin's ? When we 
came to the place where we can see far — far over the 
mountains — I laughed — with something glad in my 
heart. It was the same this time when I got to that far 
open place. All at once it seemed like I was so free — free 
from the heavy burden — and all in a kind of light that 
was only the same gladness in my heart. 

"I stopped there and waited and thought how you said 
that time, *It's good just to be alive,' and I thought if 
you were there with me and should put your hand on my 
bridle as you did that night in the rain, and if you should 
lead me away off — even into the * Valley of the shadow of 
death' into those deep shadows below us I would go and 
never say a word. All at once it seemed as if you were 



Cassandra's Confession 185 

doing that, and I forgot Frale and kept on and on; and 
wherever it seemed like you were leading me, I went. 

'*It seemed like I was dreaming, or feeling like a hand 
was on my heart — a hand I could not see, pulling me and 
making me feel, 'This way, this way, I must go this way.' 
I never had been where my horse took me before. I 
didn't think how I ever could get back again. I didn't 
seem to see anything around me — only to go on — on — 
on, and at last it seemed I couldn't go fast enough, until 
all at once I came to your horse tied there, and I heard 
strange trampling sounds a little farther on where my horse 
could not go — and I got off and ran. 

"I fell doT\Ti and got up and ran again ; and it seemed as 
if my feet wouldn't leave the ground, but only held me back. 
It seemed like they hadn't any more power to run — and — 
then I came there and I saw." She paused, covering her 
face ^4th her hand as if to shut out the sight, and slipped 
to her knees beside him. "Oh, I saw your faces — all 
terrible — " He put his arm about her and drew her close. 
*'I saw you fall, and your face when it seemed like you 
were dying as you fought. I saw — " Her sobs shook 
her, and she could not go on. 

"My beautiful priestess of good and holy things !'* he 
said. 

She leaned to him then and, placing her arms about him, 
ever mindful of his hurt, she lifted his head to her shoulder. 
The flood-gates of her reserve once lifted, the full tide of 
her intense nature swept over him and enveloped him. It 
was as light to his soul and healing to his body. How often 
it had seemed as if he saw her with that halo of light about 
her, and now it was as if he had been drawn within its 
charmed radius, as surely he had. 

"And then, dear heart, what did you do ?" 

" I thought you were killed, and almost — almost I 
cursed him. I hope now I wasn't so wicked. But I — I 
— called back from God the promise I had given him." 

"And then — tell me all the blessed truth — and 
then—" 

"You were bleeding — bleeding — and I took off your 
clothes — and I saw where vou were bleeding vour life 
away, and I tied my dress around you. I tore it in pieces 
and wound it all around you as well as I could, and then I 



186 The Mountain Girl 

put your coat back on you, and still you didn't waken. It 
seemed as if you had stopped breathing. And then I 
saw the bruise on your head, and I thought maybe you 
were only stunned. I brought water from the branch and 
put your head on the wet cloth and bound it all around, 
but still you looked like he had killed you, and then — " 
he stirred in her arms to feel their clasp. 

"And then — then— " 

"I went for help," she said, in so Iowa tone it seemed 
hardly spoken. 

"First you did something you have not told me." 

She waited in a sweet shame he recognized and gloried 
in, but he wanted the confession from her lips. 

"And then .?»" 

"You said you would teach me to say things without 
words," she said tremulously. 

"Not now. Later. Put everything you did in words. 
And then—" 

"I thought you were dying." She drew in a long, 
sighing breath. 

"And you kissed me. I have a right to know, for I 
missed them all — " 

"I did, I did," she cried vehemently. "A hundred 
times I kissed you. I had called my promise back from 
God — and I dared it. I wasn't ashamed. I would have 
done it if all the mountain side had been there to see — 
but afterwards — when that strange doctor from Faring- 
ton came, and I knew he must uncover you and find my 
torn dress around you — somehow, then I felt I didn't 
want for him to look at me, and I was glad to go away." 

"Do you want to know what he said when he saw it? 
* Whoever did this kept you alive, young man.' So you 
see how you are my beautiful bringer of good. You are 
— Oh, I have only one arm now. I am at a disadvantage. 
When I can stand on my feet, I will pay them all back — 
those kisses you threw away on me then. We shan't 
need w^ords then, dearest. I'll teach you the sweet lesson. 
Your arms tremble; they are tired, dear. Could you 
let your head rest here and sleep as you did the other day ? 
To think how I woke and found you beside me sleeping — " 

"Let me go now. I have things I ought to do for you." 

"Not yet. I have things I must say to you." 



Cassandra's Confession 187 



«- 



Please, Doctor Thryng." 

"My name is David. You must call me by it." 

"Please, Doctor David, let me go." 

"Why?" 

"To warm some milk. I brought it up for you." 

"Pity we must eat to live. Then if I let you take your 
arms away, will you come back to me?" 

"Yes. I'll bring the milk." 

"There, go. I'm giving you your own way because I 
know I will recover the sooner the strength I have lost. 
A man flat on his back, with but one arm free, is no good." 

"But you don't let me go." 

"Listen, Cassandra. You brought me back to life. 
Do you know what for ? What did your father tell you ? 
That one should be sent for you ? It is I, dearest. From 
away over on the other side of the earth, I have come for 
you. We fought like beasts — Frale and I. I had given 
you up — you — Cassandra; had said in *my heart, *I 
will go away and leave her to the one she has chosen, if 
that be right,' and even at that moment, Frale shot me 
and sprang upon me, and I fought. I was glad the chance 
was given me there in the wilderness in that old and primi- 
tive way, to settle it and win you. 

"I put all the force and strength of my body into it, 
and more ; all the strength of my love for you. It was with 
that in my heart, we clinched. I said I will fight to the 
death for her. She shall be mine whether I live or die. 
Stop crying, sweet; be glad as I am. Give thanks that 
it was to the life and not to the death. Listen, once more, 
while I can feel and know; give way to your great heart of 
love and treat me as you did after you had bound up my 
wounds. Learn the sweet lesson I said I would teach 

you." 

Late that evening, Hoke Belew rode up to the door of 
David's cabin and called Aunt Sally out to speak with him. 

"How's doc?" 

"He's doin' right well. He's asleep now. Won't ye 
'light an' come in?" 

"I reckon not. Azalie, she's been alone all day, an' I 
guess she'll be some 'feared. Will you put that thar under 
doc's pillow whar he kin find hit in the mawnin' ? Hit's 



188 The Mountain Girl 

a papah he sont me fer. Tell 'im I reckon hit's all straight. 
He kin see. Them people Cassandry was expectin' from 
Farington, did they come to-day ?" 

*'Yas, they come. They're down to Miz Farwell's." 

"Well, you tell doc 'at Azalie an' me, we'll be here 'long 
'leven in the mawnin'." Hoke rode off under the winking 
stars, for the clouds after the long day of rain had lifted, 
and in the still night were rolling away over the moun- 
tain tops. 

Aunt Sally slipped quietly back into the cabin and softly 
closed the door of the canvas room, lest the rustling of 
paper should waken her charge, for she meant to examine 
that paper, quite innocently, since she could neither read 
nor write, but out of sheer childish curiosity. 

She need not have feared waking David, however, for, 
all his physical discomfort forgotten, dominated by the 
supreme happiness that possessed him, yet weak in body 
to the point of exhaustion, he slept profoundly and calmly 
on, even when she came stealthily and slipped the paper 
beneath his pillow, as Hoke had requested. 



CHAPTER XX 

IN WHICH THE BISHOP AND HIS WIFE PASS AN EVENTFUL 

DAY AT THE FALL PLACE 

*'Do you know, James," said Betty Towers, as she 
walked at her husband's side in the sweet morning, slowly 
climbing up to David's cabin from the Fall Place, *'I 
feel almost vexed with you for never bringing me here 
before." 

*' Why — my dear ! " 

**Yes, I do. To think of all this loveliness, and for 
six years you have been here many times, and never once 
told me you knew a place hardly two hours away as en- 
trancing as heaven. Even now, James, if it hadn't been 
for Cassandra, I wouldn't have come. Why — it's the 
loveliest spot on earth. Stand still a minute, James, 
and listen. That's a thrush. Oh, something smells so 
sweet ! It's a locust ! And that's a redbird's note. 
There he is, like a red blossom in those bushes. There — 
no, there. You will look in the wrong direction, James, 
and now he's gone. You remember what David Thryng 
wrote? *It's good just to be alive.' He's always say- 
ing that, and now I understand — in such a place as this. 
Oh, just breathe the air, James!" 

"I certainly can't help doing that, dear." The bishop 
was puffing a little over the climb his slight young wife 
took so easily. 

"I don't care. Here I've lived in cities all my life, 

while you have lived down here, and it has lost its charm 

to you. Only think of all this gorgeous display of nature 

just for these mountain people, and what is it to them ? " 

- "To them it's the natural order of things, just as you 

^ implied in regard to me." 

"Hark, James. Now, that's a catbird!" 

"And not a thrush ?" 

"The other was a thrush. I know the difference." 

"Wise little woman ! Come. There's that young man 

189 



190 The Mountain Girl 

getting up a fever by fretting. We said — I said we 
would come early." 

"James, I'm going to stay up here and let you go to that 
stupid wedding down in Farington without me." 

"Perhaps we may have something interesting up here, 
if you'll hurry a little." 

"What is it, James ?" 

"I really can't say, dear." She took his hand, and they 
walked on. 

"Wouldn't this be an ideal spot to spend a honeymoon ? 
Hear that fall away down below us. How cool it sounds ! 
Why don't you pay attention to me ? What are you 
thinking about, James ? " 

"I am making a little poem for you, dear. Listen : — 

" Chatter, chatter, little tongue. 
What a wonder how you're hung ! 
Up above the epiglottis, 
Tied on with a little knot 'tis.'* 

"Only geniuses may be silly, James, but perhaps you 
can't help it. I think married people ought to establish 
the custom of sabbatical honeymoons to counteract the 
divorce habit. Suppose we set the example, now we have 
arrived at just the right time for one, and spend ours here." 

"Anything you say, dear." 

Being an absent-minded man, the bishop had fallen 
in the way of saying that, when, had he paused to think, 
he would have admitted that everything was made to 
bend to his will or wish by the spirited little being at his 
side. Moreover, being an absent-minded man, he drew 
her to him and kissed her. Aunt Sally, watching them 
from the cabin door, wondered if the bishop were going 
away on a journey, to leave his wife behind, for why else 
should he kiss her thus ? 

"Will you sit there on the rock and enjoy the mountains 
while I see how he is.^" said the bishop. 

So they parted at the door, and Aunt Sally brought her 
a chair and stood beside her, giving her every detail of the 
affair as far as she knew it. She sat bareheaded in the 
sun, to Sally's amazement, for she had her hat in her lap 
and could have worn it. 



An Eventful Day 191 

The wind blew wisps of her fine straight hair across her 
pink cheeks and in her eyes, as she gazed out upon the 
blue mountains and Ustened to Sally's tale of "How hit 
all come about." For Sally went back into the family 
history of the Teasleys, and the Caswells, and the Merlins, 
and the Farwells, until Betty forgot the flight of time 
and the bishop called her. Then she went in to see David. 

He had worked his right hand free from its bandages 
and was able to lift it a little. She took it in hers, and 
looked brightly down at him. 

"\\Tiy, Doctor Thryng, you look better than when you 
were in Farington ! Doesn't he, James ? Aunt Sally 
gave me to understand you were nearly dead." 

David laughed happily. "I was, but I am very much 
alive now. I am to be married, Mrs. Towers ; our wed- 
ding is to be quite comme il faut. It is to be at high 
noon, and the ceremony performed by a bishop." 

"James!" Betty dropped into a chair and looked 
helplessly at her husband. "You haven't your vest- 
ments here ! " 

"I have all I need, dear. You know. Doctor, from 
Mr. Belew's telegram we were led to expect — " 

"A death instead of a wedding.''" David finished. 

Betty turned to him. "Why didn't you tell us when 
you were down ? You never gave the slightest hint of 
your state of mind, and there I was with my heart aching 
for Cassandra, when you — you stood ready to save her. 
I'm so glad for Cassandra ; I could hug you. Doctor 
Thryng." Suddenly she turned on her husband. "James ! 
Have you thought of everything — all the consequences ? 
What will his mother — and the family over in England 
say.?>" 

James threw up his hand and laughed. 

"Don't laugh, James. Have you thought this all out, 
Doctor ? Are you sure you can make them understand 
over there ? Won't they think this awfully irregular ? 
Will they ever be reconciled ? I know how they are. 
My father was English." 

"They never need be reconciled. It's our affair, and 
there's nothing to call me back there to live. What I do, 
or whom I make my wife, is nothing to them. I may 
visit my mother, of course, but for the rest, they gave me 



192 The Mountain Girl 

up years ago, when I had no use for the life they mapped 
out for me. I have nothing to inherit there. It would 
go to my older brother, anyway. I may follow my own 
inclination — thank God ! And as for it's being irregu- 
lar — on the contrary — we are distinguished enough to 
have a bishop perform the ceremony. That will be con- 
sidered a great thing at home — when they do come to 
hear of it." 

*'But it is very sudden. Doctor; I suppose that's why 
I said irregular." Betty Towers paused a moment with 
a little frown, then laughed outright. "Does Cassandra 
know she is to be married to-day ^ " 

"She learned the fact yesterday — incidentally — bless 
her ! and her only objection was a most feminine one. 
She had no propgr dress. She said she was wearing her 
best when she found me and — but — I told her the 
trousseau was to come later." 

Betty rose with impulsive importance. "Well, James, 
we've so little time, I must go and help her prepare. 
And you'll rest now, won't you. Doctor ? You stay up 
here with him, James, and I'll find some way of sending 
your things up." 

"Thar's Hoyle; he kin he'p a heap. He kin ride the 
mule an' tote anything ye like ; and Slarthy, I reckon ye 
kin git her up here on my horse — hit's thar at her place," 
said Sally, who had been standing in the doorway, keenly 
interested. 

When they were alone she said to David: "Hit's a 
right quare way o' doin' things — gitt'n married in bed, 
but if Bishop Towahs do hit, hit sure must be all right — 
leastways Cassandry'll think so." 

David took the superintendence of the arrangement 
of his cabin upon himself, and Hoke Belew, with the 
bishop's aid, carried out his directions. One side of his 
canvas room was rolled to the top, leaving the place open 
to the hills and the beauty without. His bed was placed 
so that he might face the open space, and that Cassandra 
could kneel at his right side. His writing-table, draped 
with a white cloth and covered with green hemlock boughs, 
formed the altar. It was all very quickly and simply 
done, and then David lay quiet, with closed eyes, listening 
to his musicians in the tree-tops, fluting their own glad- 



An Eventful Day 193 

ness, while Hoke Belew went down below, and the bishop 
sat out on the rock and meditated. 

Cassandra came up to the cabin alone and sat with 
David, while the bishop donned his priestly vestments, 
and the wedding procession wound slowly up the trail 
from the Fall Place, decorously and gravely, clad in their 
best. Azalea and Betty came, side by side, the mother rode 
Sally's speckled white horse, and little Hoyle ran on 
ahead; Hoke carried his baby in his arms. Behind them 
all rode Uncle Jerry Carew, full of the liveliest interest 
and curiosity. 

Said David: "This is May-day. I know what they're 
doing at home now, if the weather will let them. They're 
having gay times with out-of-door fetes. The country 
girls are wearing their prettiest gowns, and the men are 
wearing sprigs of May in their buttonholes. Where did 
you get your roses ? " 

"Azalie brought them." 

*'And who put them in your hair.'*" 

"Mrs. Towahs did that. Do vou like me this way, 

"You are the loveliest being my ej^es ever rested on." 

"This was my best dress last year. I did it up and 
mended it this morning. It's home-woven like the one I 
— like the other one you said you liked." 

David smiled, looking up into the gray eyes with the 
green lights and blue depths in them. How serene and 
poised her manner was, on the verge of the momentous 
step she was about to take, while his own heart was beat- 
ing high. He wondered if she really comprehended the 
change it was to make in her life, that she showed no appre- 
hension or fear. 

"Cassandra, do you realize that in fifteen minutes you 
will be my wife ? It will be a great change for you, dearest. 
In spite of all I can do, you may be sad sometimes, and I 
may ask of you things you don't want to do." 

"I've been sad already in my life, and done things I 
didn't want to do. I don't guess you could change that — 
only God could." 

" And you don't feel in the least disturbed .^ Your 
heart doesn't beat any harder nor your breath come 
quicker? Tell me how you feel." 



194 The Mountain Girl 

She smiled and drew a long breath. **I don't know how 
it is. Everything is right peaceful and sweet outside — 
the sky and the hills and all the birds — even the wind is 
still in the trees, like everything was waiting for some- 
thing good to happen." 

"In your heart it is sweet and peaceful, too, and waiting 
for something good to happen ?" 

"Yes, David." 

"God forgive me if ever I fail you," he said, drawing her 
down to him. "God make me worthy of you." 

Then the bishop entered, and the little procession fol- 
lowed, and gathered about while the solemn words of the 
service were uttered. Cassandra knelt at David's side, 
as together they partook of the bread and wine, and with 
the worn circlet of gold which had been tied to her father's 
little Greek books, they were pronounced man and wife. 
Then, rising from her knees, she bent and kissed David, 
the long first kiss of the wedded pair, and turned her 
gravely happy face to the bishop, who admitted to Betty 
afterward that he had never kissed a bride, other than his 
own, with such unalloyed satisfaction. 

It was all over quickly, and Cassandra was standing in 
a new world. Her eyes shone w^ith the love-light no 
longer held back and veiled. She accompanied them all 
to the door and parted from them, even her mother and 
little Hoyle, as a hostess parting from her guests. She 
would not allow any one to stay behind, for the wedding 
feast had been spread in her mother's house, and thither 
they repaired to eat, and talk everything over. 

"Mother felt right bad to leave us alone. She meant 
to bring everything up and all eat together here, but I 
thought it would be better, just we two, and me to set 
things out for you. Lie quiet and close your eyes, David, 
and make out like you are sleeping while I do it." 

With perfect contentment he obeyed, and lay w^atching 
her through half-closed lids. It was always the same 
vision. She moved between him and a halo of light that 
seemed to be a part of her and to go with her,, now at his 
bedside, now bending before the fireplace. At last the 
small pine table, which had served as an altar, was set 
with their first meal. The home A^as established. 

He opened his eyes and looked on the feast she had set 



An Eventful Day 195 

before him. The pink rose was still in her hair, and one 
at her throat, and two perfect ones were in a glass near his 
plate. The table was drawn close to his bedside, and 
strawberries w'ere upon it, and a glass pitcher of cream. 
There were white beaten biscuit, and tea — as he had 
made it for her so long ago on her first and only visit 
to his cabin when he was at home, so she had made it 
for him now. There were chicken and green peas, 
also. 

"How quickly everything has happened ! How perfect 
it all is ! How did you get all these things together V 

So she told him where everything came from. "Mother 
churned the butter to have it right fresh, and she left it 
without salt for you, like you said you used to have it in 
England. Uncle Jerry brought the peas from his garden, 
and he shelled them himself. I made the biscuit this 
morning, and Aunt Sally fried the chicken when she came 
down, and Azalie prepared the peas, and we kept them all 
hot in the fireplace, theirs down there, and ours up here." 
Cassandra laughed merrily. "I reckon it looked funny. 
Every one carried something when they came up. Hoyle 
had the peas in a tin pail, and mother rode Aunt Sally's 
Speckle and carried the biscuit in a pan on front. Shut 
your eyes and you can see them come that waj% David, 
while I sit here with you, talking and feeling that happy. 
Don't try to use your right hand that way ; I can see it 
hurts you. Let me go on feeding you like I am. Don't 
I do it right .? " 

"Perfectly, but I want you to bring that cushion over 
here and put it under my pillow so you won't have to lift 
my head. That's right. Now I want to see you eat. 
You can't feed me and yourself at the same time. You 
won't ? Then we'll take it turn about." 

"How have you managed these daj^s ? Did Aunt Sally 
feed you ? Oh, I don't believe you ate anything. You 
couldn't, could you .^" 

She spoke so sadly, he laughed. "It's a lucky thing 
you sent for the bishop instead of the doctor, or I would 
have had no wife and would have starved to death. I 
couldn't have survived another dav." 

Again she laughed out, as she seemed so suddenly to have 
learned to do. "And I would have stayed away and let 



196 The Mountain Girl 

you starve to death ? You must open your mouth, David, 
and not try to talk now." 

"Ah, no, that's enough. WeVe a thousand things to 
say and plans to make. You eat while I talk. When I 
am up, we must find some one to stay with your mother. 
She should not be left alone." Cassandra paled a little. 
He was watching her face. "You will be staying up here 
with me, you know, all the time." 

"Yes — I know." Her throat seemed to tighten, and 
she looked off toward the hills, as her way was. 

"Don't you like the thought of staying up here with me ? 
Make your confession, dearest one." He drew her down 
to look in his eyes. "It's done. We are man and wife." 

Her eyes swam with tears, but her lips smiled. "I do. 
I do want to bide with you. All the way before me now 
looks like a long path of light — like what I have dreamed 
sometimes when the moon shines long down the mists at 
night. Only one place — I can't quite see — is it shadow 
or not. Perhaps it's only the thought of mother down 
there alone." 

She spoke dreamily and with the same look of seeing 
things beyond, except that now she fixed her eyes, not on 
the mountain top, but on his own. 

"Is it in my eyes you see the long path of light ? Are 
we together in it ? I see you always with the light about 
you. I saw you so first in your own home before the blaz- 
ing fire — such a hearth fire as I had never seen before. 
You have appeared to me in my dreams with light about 
you ever since, and in my visions when I have been riding 
over these hills alone. What are you seeing now ? " 

"You, as you helped me that first time, there in the 
snow. You looked so ill, but your way was strong, and I 
thought — all at once, in a flash — like it came from — " 

"Goon." 

"Like it came from my father: *One will come for 
you.' " She hid her face in his bosom, and her words came 
smothered and brokenly, "All the ride home I put them 
away, but they would come back, his words: *0n the 
mountain top, one will come for you ' ; but we were in such 
trouble — I thought it was just the thought of my father. 
It's always strongest when trouble comes, like he would 
comfort me." 



An Eventful Day 197 

*' Don't you have it also when happiness comes to you, 
as on this morning while we waited together ?'* 

**No great happiness Hke this ever came before. I have 
been glad, like when mother said I might go to Farington 
to school ; and when I knelt and was confirmed, I was 
glad then. The first gladness I can remember was when 
my father used to carry me in his arms up and down his 
path and repeat strange poetry to me. When you are 
well, we will go there, won't we.'^" 

"Yes, dearest ; but didn't the remembrance come to you 
just now, when you saw the long path of light before us .f^" 

"I think no, David. I'm afraid I forgot every one but 
you then, when you asked would I like to bide here with 
you ; and the long path of light was our love — for it 
reaches up to heaven, doesn't it, David ? " 

'*It reaches to heaven, Cassandra." 

Then they were silent, for there was no more to say. 



CHAPTER XXI 

IN WHICH THE SUMMER PASSES 

MiDSUAOiER arrived, and David, healed of his wounds, 
pronounced himself as "strong as a cricketer." What 
he meant by that Hoyle could only conjecture, and, after 
much pondering, decided that his strength was now so 
great that should he desire to do so, he could leap into the 
air or jump long distances after the manner of crickets. 

"You reckon you could jump as fer in one jump now 
as from here to t'other side the water trough yandah ? " 
he asked one day, as they sat on the porch steps together. 

"No, I don't reckon so," said David, laughing. 

"Well, could you jump ovah this here house and the 
loom shed in one jump ?*^ 

"I don't reckon so." 

"Be sensible, honey son. You mustn't 'low him to 
ax ye fool questions, Doctah. You knows they hain't 
nobody kin do such as that, Hoyle," called his mother from 
within. 

"He has some idea in his head. What is it, brother 
Hoyle.?" 

"I heered you tellin' Cass 'at you was gettin' strong as 
one o' these here cricket bugs, an' I had one t'other day ; 
he could jump as fer as cl'ar acrost the po'ch — and he 
was only 'bout a inch long — er less 'n a inch. I thought 
if brothah David was that strong, he could jump a heap." 

David had comforted Hoyle for the loss of Cassandra 
from the home by explaining that they were now become 
brothers for the rest of their lives, and in order to give 
this assurance appreciable significance, he had taken the 
small chap to the circus and had treated him to pink 
lemonade and a toy balloon. 

They had remained over until the next day, and Doctor 
Bartlett and David had examined him all over at the old 
physician's office and then had gone into a little room 
by themselves and stayed a long time, leaving him outside. 

198 



The Summer Passes 199 

Then, to compensate for such gross neglect, David had 
taken him to a clothing store and bought him a complete 
suit of store clothing, very neat and pretty. Hoyle would 
have been in the seventh heaven over all this, were it not, 
alas ! that there the child for the first time in his life 
looked into a mirror that revealed him to himself from head 
to foot, little wry neck, hunched back and all. 

David, not realizing this was a revelation to the little 
man, wondered, as they walked away, that all his enthu- 
siasm and exuberance of spirits had left him, and that he 
walked at his side wearily and sadly silent. His pathetic 
little legs spindled down from the smart new trousers, 
and his hands dangled weakly from his thin wrists, albeit 
his fingers clung tightly to his toy balloon. 

"We're going back to the bishop's now, and we'll have 
a good dinner, and then you'll have a whole hour to 
play with Dorothy before we leave for home," said David, 
cheeringly. The child made no response other than to slip 
his hand into David's. "What are you thinking about, 
brother Hoyle .? " 

"Jest nothin'. I war a-wonderin'." 

"Oh, there is a difference .^ W'hat were you wonder- 
mg? 

"Maw told me if you war that good to take me to a 
circus, I mustn't bothah you with a heap o' questions 'at 
wa'n't no good." 

"That's all right. I'm questioning you now." 

"What war you an' that old man feelin' me all ovah for ? 
War you tryin' to make out hu' come my hade is sot like 
this-a-way .^ Reckon you r'aly could set hit straight an' 
get this 'er lump off'n my back V 

"Don't worry about your head and your back. You 
have a very good head. That's more than some can say.'* 

"I nevah see nary othah boy like I be. You reckon 
that li'l' girl, she thought I war quare "^ " 

|] What little girl .^';^ 

"Mrs. Towahs's liT girl. She said 'turn roun', ' an' 
when I done hit, she said ' turn roun' agin.' Then she said, 
'Whyn't you hoi' your hade like I do ?'" 

"What did you say ?" 

"Didn't say nothin.' Jes' axed her whyn't she hoi' 
her head like I did .^ an' she said, 'Don't want to.' So 



200 The Mountain Girl 

I said, 'Don't want to.'" He twisted his head about to 
look up in David's face, and his lips smiled, but in his 
eyes was a suspicion of tears. His heart heavy for the 
child, David praised him for a brave Httle chap, comforting 
him as best he could. 

"You reckon she'd like me if I war to give her this here 
balloon.?" 

"No, you take that home to sister. The little girl 
can get one when the circus comes again." But after 
dinner, David did not send Hoyle off to play the hour with 
Dorothy. He took her on his knee and entertained them 
both with tales and mimicry until he had them in gales of 
laughter, and for the time being Hoyle forgot his troubles. 

As the days passed, David became more and more inter- 
ested in his patch of ground and the growing things in his 
garden. Never had he labored with his hands in this 
fashion, and each night he lay down to sleep physically 
weary, in contentment of spirit. Steadily he progressed 
toward the desired goal of health. In his young wife, also, 
he found a rich satisfaction, watching her unfold and 
blossom into the gracious wifehood and ladyhood he had 
dreamed of for her. 

Together they used to stroll to the little farm, where 
she told him all she knew about the crops — what was best 
for the animals, and what would be needed for themselves. 
Long before David was able to oversee the work himself, 
she had set Elwine Timms to sowing cow-peas and planting 
corn. 

"Behold your heritage !" David said to her one morn- 
ing, as they strolled thus among the thrifty greenness and 
patches of vetch where the cow was contentedly feeding. 
He laughed joyously and drew his wife's arm through his. 
She looked up at him wistfully. He thought she sighed, 
and bent his head to listen. "What was that little 
sound ? " 

"I was only thinking." 

"We'll sit here where we sat that morning when we both 
put our hands to the plough, and you tell me what you were 
thinking." 

"I ought not to stop now, David. I've left all for 
mother to do. I was that busy at the cabin I didn't get 
down to her this morning." 



The Summer Passes 201 

"You can't keep two homes going with only your own 
two dear hands, Cassandra. It must be stopped. We'll 
find some one to live with your mother and take your 
place." She gave a little gasp, then sat silently, her hands 
dropped passively in her lap, and he thought she seemed 
sad. He took her face between his hands and made her 
look into his eyes. "Don't be worried, sweetheart; we'll 
make a few changes. You're mine now, you know — not 
only to serve me and labor for me as you have been doing 
all these weeks, but — " 

"But I like it, David. I like doing for you. I hope 
it may always be so I can do for you." 

"Would you like me to become an invalid again so you 
could keep on in the way you began ?" 

"Not that — but sometimes I think what if you 
shouldn't really need me ! " She hid her face on his 
breast. "I — I want you to need me — David!" It 
was almost like a cry for help, as she said it. 

"Dear heart, dear heart ! What are you thinking and 
fearing ? Can't you understand ? You are mine now, to 
be cared for and loved and held very near and dear to my 
heart. We are no more twain, we are one." 

"Yes, but — but — David, I — I want you to need 
me," she sobbed, and he knew some thought was stirring 
in her heart which she could not yet put into words. He 
comforted her and soothed her, explaining certain plans 
which later he put into execution, so that her duties at 
the Fall Place were brought to an end and he could have 
her always with him. 

A daughter of her Uncle Cotton, who had gone down 
into South Carolina to live, was induced to come and stay 
with the widow, and the girl's brother came with her and 
helped David on the farm. 

Then David made changes in and about his cabin. 
He built on another room and put therein a cook stove. 
He could not bear to see his young wife bending at the 
hearth preparing their meals, and when she demurred, he 
explained that he wished to keep her as she was and not 
see her growing old and wrinkled before her time, with the 
burning heat of the open fire in her face, like many of the 
mountain women. 

One evening, — they had eaten their supper out under 



202 The Mountain Girl 

the trees, — she proposed they should walk up to her 
father's path, as she called the spot toward which she so 
often lifted her eyes, and David was well pleased to go 
with her. As they set out, she asked him to wait a moment 
while she went back for something, and quickly returned, 
bringing his flute. 

"I've often wished father could have heard you play on 
this," she said, as he took it from her hand. 

They crossed the little river that tumbled and rushed 
among great moss-covered boulders on its way to the fall, 
and followed its wayward course toward its head, where 
the w^ay was untrodden and wild, as if no human foot had 
ever climbed along its banks. After a little they turned 
off toward a tremendous rock of solid granite that had been 
cleft smoothly in twain by some gigantic force of nature, 
and, walking between the towering walls of stone, came 
out on the farther side upon a small level space, where 
immense ferns and flags grew thickly in the rich soil, held 
in place and kept damp by the great cool masses of stone. 

Above this little dell the hill rose steeply, and Cassandra 
led him to a narrow opening in the dense shrubbery sur- 
rounding the spot from which a beaten path wound up- 
ward, overarched with thickly interlacing branches of 
birch wood and hemlocks. Along this winding trail they 
climbed, until they reached a cluster of enormous cedars 
which made the dark place on the mountain Cassandra 
had pointed out to him from below. Here the path wid- 
ened so they could walk side by side, and continued along 
a level line at the foot of the dark mass of trees. 

"Here father used to walk up and down reading in his 
little books ; seems like I can hear his voice now. Some- 
times he would look off over the valley below us there 
and repeat parts by heart. Isn't it beautiful here, 
David.?" 

"Heavenly beautiful !" 
I'm glad we never came here before." 
Why, dearest?" 

Because." She hesitated with parted lips, and cheeks 
flushed from the climb. David stood with bared head. 
He felt as if he were in a cathedral. 

"And why because ?'' he asked again. 

"For now we bring just happiness with us. We're not 



<< T>- 



ii 



The Summer Passes 203 

troubled or wondering about anything. No sorrow comes 
with us. In our hearts we are sure — sure — '* She 
paused again and lifted her eyes to his. 

"Sure that all is right when we belong to each other — 
this way ? " 

"Yes, sure! Oh, David, sure — sure!" She threw 

'her arms about his neck and drew his face down to hers. 

"It's even a greater happiness than when he used to carry 

me in his arms here. There's no sorrow near us. It's 

all far awav." 

Thus, sometimes she would throw off all the habitual 
reserve of her manner and open her heart to him, following 
the rich impulses of her nature to their glorious revelation. 

"Now, David, sit here and play ; play your flute as you 
did that first time when I learned who made the music that 
I thought must be the 'Voices,' that time I climbed up to 
see." 

They sat under the great cedars on a bank of moss, and 
David took the flute from her hand, smiling as he thought 
of that moment when he had stood among the blossoming 
laurel and watched her as she moved about his cabin, 
the day before his hurt, and how she had kissed it. 

"I used to sit here like this." She bent forward and 
rested her head on his knee. She had a way of putting her 
two hands together as a child is taught to hold them in 
prayer and placing them beneath her cheek; and so she 
waited while David paused, his hand on her hair, and his 
eyes fixed on the sea of hilltops where they melted into 
the sky, — a mysterious, undulating line of the faintest 
blue, seen through the arching branches above, and the 
swaying hemlocks on either side, and over the tops of a 
hundred varieties of pines and deciduous trees beneath 
them, all down the long slope up which they had climbed. 

Thus they waited, until she lifted her head and looked 
into his eyes questioningly. He bent forward and kissed 
her lips and then lifted the flute to his own — but again 
paused. 

"What are you thinking now, David .f^" she asked. 

"So you really thought it was the 'Voices' '^. What was 
their message, Cassandra ? " 

"I couldn't make it out then, but I thought of this place 
and of father, and it was all at once like as if he would 



204 The Mountain Girl 

make me know something, and I prayed God would he 
lead me to understand was it a message or not. So that 
was the way I kept on following — until I — " 

"You came to me, dear ?" 

"Yes.'* 

"And what did you think the interpretation was then ?'' 

"Yes, it was you — you, David. It was love — and 
hope — and gladness — everything, everything — " 

"Goon." 

"Everything good and beautiful — but — sometimes it 
comes again — " 

" What comes .?^" 

"Play, David, play. I'll tell you another time in an- 
other place, not here. No, no." 

So he played for her until the dusk deepened around 
and below them, and they had to make their way back 
stumblingly. When they came to the wild, untrodden 
bank of the little river, David resigned the choosing of their 
path entirely to her and followed close, holding her hand 
where she led. When at last they reached their cabin, 
they did not light candles, but sat long in the doorway 
conversing on the deep things of their souls. 

It still seemed to David as if she held something back 
from him, and now he begged her for a more perfect self- 
revealing. 

"It is no longer as if we were separate, dearest; can't 
you remember and feel that we are one ?" 

"In a way I do. It is very sweet." 

"You say in a way. In what way ?" 

"Why, David ?"^ 

"I want your point of view." 

"I see. We're not really one until we see from each 
other's hilltop, are we ? " 

"No, and you never take me into the secret places of 
your heart and let me look off from your own hilltop." 

"Didn't I this very evening, David ?'* 

"We stood on the same spot of earth and looked off on 
the same distance, yet in my soul I know I did not see what 
you saw." 

"Pictures come to me very suddenly and just float by, 
hardly understood by myself. I didn't w^ant you to see 
all I saw, David. I don't know how comes it, but all the 



The Summer Passes 205 

time, even in the midst of our great gladness — right when 
it is most beautiful — far before me, right across our way, 
is a place that is dim. It seems 'most like the shadows 
that fall on the hills when those great piles of clouds pass 
through the sky, when it is deep blue all around them and 
the sun shines everywhere else.'* 

"Your soul is still an undiscovered country to me, 
Cassandra." 

*'I should think you'd like that. Don't men love to 
go discovering ? And if you could get into the secret 
chambers, as you call them, you wouldn't find much. 
Then you'd be sorry." 

"Cassandra, what are you covering and holding back ?" 

"I don't know, David. It's like it was when I couldn't 
understand the message of the 'Voices' ! When it comes 
clear and strong, I'll tell you." 

"Then there is something.'^" 
les. 

With a little sigh, she rose and entered the cabin. He 
sat in silence as she had left him, but soon she returned. 
Standing behind him in the darkness, she put her inter- 
laced fingers under his chin and drew his face backward 
until she could see it, white in the dusk, beneath her eyes. 

"You have come back to explain ?'* 

"If I can, David. It's hard for me to put in words what 
is so dim — what I see. It's all just love for you, David. 
The love burns and blazes up in me like the fire when it's 
fiercest on the hearth, when the day is cold outside. 
You've seen it so. In the little books my father used to 
read, there was a tale of a woman who had my name. 
She foretold the sorrows to come. Perhaps she saw as I 
see things in the dim pictures, only more clearly, and 
wisdom was given her to interpret them. 

"Often and often I've felt that in me — that strange 
seeing and knowing before, and I don't like it. Only 
once it made me feel glad — when it led me to you and 
Frale that terrible moment. But it wasn't a picture that 
time; it was a feeling that pulled me and made me go. 
I would have gone that time if I had died for it." 

He took her two hands and covered them \\ath kisses, 
there in the darkness. "I told you you were my priestess 
of all that is good." 



206 The Mountain Girl 

**But I don't want to be always seeing the shadows and 
foreboding. I want to be all happy — happy 7— the 
way you are." 

"I believe you are one of the blessed ones of God who 
have * the gift ' ; but you are right to feel as you do. Your 
life will be more normal and wholesome not to try to probe 
into the future. I'll not attempt to take my coarser hu- 
manity into your holy places, dear." 

He led her into their canvas sleeping chamber, and there 
she was soon calmly slumbering at his side ; but he lay 
long pondering and trying to see his way out of a certain 
dilemma of unrest that had been creeping into his veins 
and prodding him forward ever since his reestablished 
health had become an assured fact. He recognized it 
as no more than the proper impulse of his manhood not 
to stagnate and slumber in a lotus dream, even as delicious 
a dream as this. Ah, it was inevitable. His world must 
become her world. 

Herein lay the dilemma. This unsullied, beautiful 
being must enter that sordid old world, that had so pressed 
upon him and broken him down. This idyl might go on 
for perhaps a year longer — but not for always — not for 
always. 

He slept at last, and dreamed that they were being driven 
along a dark, cold river, wide and swift; that they had 
entered it where it was only a narrow, rushing stream, 
sparkling and tumbling over rocks, and winding in intricate 
turnings on itself ; that they had laughed as they followed 
it, plashing among the stones where she led him by the 
hand, until it grew wider and deeper and colder, and they 
were lifted from their feet and were tossed and swirled 
about, and she cried and clung to him, and even as he 
clasped her and held her, he knew her to be slipping from 
him. Then in terror he aw^oke, and, reaching out in the 
darkness, drew her into his embrace and slept again. 



CHAPTER XXn 

IN WHICH DAVID TAKES LITTLE HOYLE TO CANADA 

"David," said his wife next day, as he came whistling 
up to his cabin from the farm below, "do you mind if I 
give mother a little help with the weaving ? Mattie can't 
do it. She's right nigh spoiled the counterpane we had 
on when she came, and since mother's hurt, she can't work 
the treadles, so now the hotel's open Miss Mayhew may 
come and find them not half done." 

"Do I mind .^ AMiy should I mind, if you don't 'right 
nigh' spoil your back and wear yourself out ?" 

"Then I'll go down with you after dinner and see can I 
patch up Mattie's mistakes. It takes so much patience 

— a loom does, to understand it." 

Mattie was the cousin David had imported from the low 
countrv to relieve Cassandra from the burden of the work 
in the home below. Although a disappointment to them, 
she still did her work after her own fashion, clumsily and 
slowly, but her Aunt 'Marthy'was never at rest, prodding 
the dull nature forward, trying to make her take the inter- 
est Cassandra had done. 

David had wisely persuaded his wife to leave them to 
themselves, to work out the problem of adjustment to the 
new conditions as best they might, and his persuasions 
had been of a more peremptory nature than he realized. 
To Cassandra they had been as commands, but now — 
when the weaving on which the widow had counted so 
much was likely to be ruined by Mattie's unskilled hands 

— the old mother had declared she could not bear to see 
her niece around and should "pack her off whar she come 
from." 

Therefore Cassandra had made her timid request — the 
first evidence of shrinking from her husband she had ever 
given. WTiy was it ? he asked himself. ^Yhat had he 
ever said or done to make her prefer a request in that way ? 

207 



208 The Mountain Girl 

But it was over in an instant, and her own poised manner 
returned as they ate and chatted together. 

Little Hoyle came running up to eat with them. He 
had conceived a disUke to the home below since the incum- 
bent had come to take his sister's place, and evaded thus, 
as often as possible, his mother's vigilance. David did not 
mind the intrusion, but suffered the adoring little chap 
to sit at his side, ever twisting his small body about to fix 
his great eyes on David's face, while he plied him with 
questions and hung on his words too intent to attend to 
his own eating unless admonished thereto by his sister. 

"If you don't eat, son, I'll send you back to mother," 
she threatened. 

"I won't go," he rebelled joyously. "I'll jes' set here 
'longside brothah David." 

"No, you won't, young man. You'll do whatever sister 
says. That's what I do." He put his hand on th^ boy's 
tousled head and turned him about to his plate, well filled 
with food still untouched, but he noticed that the child ate 
listlessly, more as an act of obedience than from a normal 
desire. He glanced up at his wife and saw that she also 
noticed Hoyle's languor. They finished the meal in a 
silence only broken by Hoyle's questions and David's 
replies, now serious, now teasing and bantering. 

"You are so full of interrogation points you have no 
room for your dinner. Here — (Ji'ink this milk — slowly ; 
don't gulp it." 

"I know what they be. They go this-a-way." The 
boy set down his glass to illustrate with his slender little 
hand the form of the question mark. Then he laughed 
out gayly. "You know hu' come I got filled up with them 
things ? I done swallered that thar catechism Cass b'en 
teachin' me Sundays." 

"No, I'm thinking you just are one yourself." 

"'Cause I'm crooked like this-a-way.'^" He twisted 
about and looked up at David gravely. 

"No, no, son. Doctor didn't mean that," said his 
sister. 

"Finish your milk," said David. "We'll have some fun 
with the microscope." And once again the child essayed 
to eat and drink a little. 

But the languor and pallor grew in spite of all David 



David takes Hoyle to Canada 209 

could do for him, and as the weeks passed his large eyes 
burned more brilliantly and his thin form grew more 
meagre. Cassandra got in the way of keeping him up at 
the cabin with her, and when she went down to weave, 
he went also and used to lie on the bundles of cotton, poring 
over the books which David procured for him from time 
to time. 

"What he gets in that way won't hurt him. It's not 
like having set tasks to learn, and he's not burdened with 
any 'ought ' or 'ought not ' about it. Let him vege- 
tate until cooler weather. Then, if he doesn't improve, 
we'll see what can be done. Something radical, I imagine." 

The fall arrived in a splendor that was truly oriental 
m its gorgeousness. The changing colors of the foliage 
surpassed in brilliancy anything David had ever seen 
or imagined possible. The mantle of deepest green which 
had clothed the mountain sides all summer, became trans- 
muted, until all the world was glorified and glowing as if 
the heat of the summer sun had been stored up during the 
drowsy days to burst forth thus in warmest reds and golds. 

"The hills look as if they had clothed themselves in 
Turkish rugs, ancient and fine," said David one evening, 
as he sat on his rock, watching them burn in the afterglow 
of the setting sun. 

"How much there is for me to learn and know," Cas- 
sandra replied in a low voice. " I never saw a Turkish rug. 
You often speak of things I know nothing about." 

David laughed and turned upon her happy eyes. " Why 
so sad for that ? Did you think I loved you and married 
you for your worldly knowledge ? " She smiled back at him 
and was silent. Presently he continued. "Now, while 
Hoyle is not here, I wish to talk to you a little about him." 

"Yes, David." Her heart fluttered with a nameless 
fear, but she betrayed no sign of emotion. 

"You've seen, of course. It's not necessary to tell you." 

"No, David — only — does it mean death ? " She put 
her hand out to him, and he took it in his and stroked it. 

"Not surely. We'll make a fight for him, won't we, 
dear.?" 

"Oh, David ! What can we do ?'' she moaned. 

"There's a thing to do that I've been reserving as a last 



no The Mountain Girl 

resort. I think the time has come to try it. This curva- 
ture presses on some vital part, and the action of his heart 
is uncertain. He needs the tonic of the cold, — the ice 
and snow. Would you trust him to me, dear ? I'll take 
him to Doctor Hoyle. You know very well everything 
kindness and skill can do will be done for him there." 

"Yes, yes, David. You are so good to him always! 
Would — would you go — alone with him ? " She drew 
closer to him, her head on his shoulder and her hand in his, 
but he could not see her face. 

"You mean without you, dearest ? " 

"Yes." 

"That may be as you say. Would you prefer to go 
with us?" 

She drew a long breath, slowly, like an indrawn sigh, and 
something trembled to pass her heart, but suddenly the 
old habit of reserve sealed her lips and she remained silent. 

"Wliat do you say .?" he urged. 

"Tell me first — do you want me to go .^^ " 

He was silent, and they sat waiting for each other. Then 
he said, "I do want you to go — and yet I don't want 
you to go — yet. Sometime, of course, we must go where 
I may find wider scope for my activities." He felt her 
quiver of anxiety. "Not until you are quite ready your- 
self, dear, always remember that." Still she was silent, 
and he continued: "I can't say that I'm quite ready 
myself. I would prefer one more year here, but Hoyle 
must be removed without delay. We may have waited 
too long as it is. Will your mother consent ? She must, 
if she cares to see him live." 

" Oh, David ! Go, go. Take him and go to-morrow. 
Leave me here and go — but — come back to me, David, 
soon — very soon. I — I shall need you, I — Can you 
leave Hoyle there and come back, David ? Or must you 
bide there, too ? " Suddenly she bowed her face in her 
hands. " Oh, I'm so wicked and selfish to think of leaving 
him there without you or me or mother — one. David, 
what can we do ? He might die there, and you — you 
must come back for the winter ; what would save him, 
might kill you. Oh, David ! Take me with you, and 
leave me there with him, and you come back. Doctor 
Hoyle will take care of him — of us — once we are there." 



David takes Hoyle to Canada 211 

**Now, now, now ! hold your dear heart in peace. Why, 
I'm well. To stay another winter would only be to es- 
tablish myself in a more rugged condition of body — not 
that I must do so. We'll talk with your mother to-mor- 
row. It may be hard to persuade her.'* 

But he found the mother most reasonable and practical. 
He even tried to abate her perfect trust in him and his 
ability to bring the child back to her quite well and strong. 

"This isn't a trouble that is ever really cured, you know. 
When taken young enough, it may be helped, and I've 
known people who have lived long and useful lives in spite 
of it. That's all we may hope for." 

"Waal, I 'low ye can't git him no younger'n he be now, 
an' he's that peart, I reckon he's worth hit — leastways 
to we-uns." 

"Of course he's worth it." 

"You are right good to keer fer him like you have. I'd 
do a heap fer you ef I could. All I have is jest this here 
farm, an' hit's fer you an' Cass. On'y ef ye'd 'low me an* 
leetle Hoyle to bide on here whilst we live — " 

David was touched. "Do you realize I've found here 
the two greatest things in the world, love and health ? 
All I want is for you to know and remember that if I can't 
succeed in doing all I would like for the boy, at least I 
tried my very best. I may not succeed, you know, but 
this is the only thing to do now — the only thing." 

David parted from his young wife, leaving her standing 
in the door of their cabin, clad in her white homespun 
frock, smiling, yet tearful and pale. He was to walk 
down to the Fall Place, where Jerry Carew waited with 
the wagon in which he had arrived, and where his baggage 
had been brought the day before. When he came to the 
steepest part of the descent, he looked back and saw 
Cassandra still standing as if in a trance, gazing after 
him. He felt his heart lean towards her, and, turning 
sharply, walked swiftly to her and took her once more 
in his arms and looked down into those deep springs — 
her sweet gray eyes. Thus for a long moment he held 
her to his heart with never a word. Then she entered 
the little home, and he walked away, looking back no 
more. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

IN WHICH DOCTOR HOYLE SPEAKS HIS MIND 

Doctor Hoyle sat in his office staring straight before 
him, not as if he were looking at David Thryng, who sat 
in range of his vision, but as if seeing beyond him into 
some other time and place. David had been speaking, 
but now they both were silent, and the young man won- 
dered if his old friend had really been paying attention 
to his words or not. 

"Well, Doctor," he said at last. 

"Well, David." 

"You don't seem satisfied. Is it with my condition?'* 

"Your condition .f^ No, no, no! It's not your con- 
dition. Yes, yes — fine, fine. I never saw such a mar- 
vellous change in my life, never !" 

David smiled over the old doctor's stammer of enthu- 
siasm. It was as if his thoughts, fertile and vehement, 
and the feelings of his great, warm heart welled up within 
him, and, trying to burst forth all at once, tumbled over 
themselves, unable to secure words rapidly enough in 
which to give themselves utterance. 

"Then why so silent and dubious.^" 

"Why — why — y — ^young man, I wasn't thinking any- 
thing about you just then." And again David laughed, 
while his wiry old friend jumped up and walked rapidly 
and restlessly about the small apartment and laughed in 
sympathy. "It's not — not — " 

"I know." David grew instantly sober again. "Of 
course the little chap's case is serious — very — or I would 
not have brought him to you." 

"Oh, no, no, I'm not thinking of Adam, bless you, no." 
The doctor always called his little namesake Adam. 
"I'm thinking of her — the little girl you left behind you. 
Yes — yes. Of her." 

212 



Doctor Hoyle speaks his Mind 213 

"She's not so little now, Doctor ; she's tall — tall enough 
to be beautiful." 

"I remember her, — slight — slight little creature, 
all eyes and hair, all soul and mind. Now what are you 
going to do with her, eh.^^" 

" AVhat is she going to do with me, rather ! I'll go back 
to her as soon as I dare leave the boy." 

"But, man alive! what — what are — you can't 
live down there all your days. It's to be life and work 
for you, sir, and what are you going to do with her, I 
say?" 

"I'll bring her here with me. She'll come." 

"Of course you'll bring her here with you, and you — 
you'll have plenty of friends. Maybe they'll appreciate 
her, and maybe they won't ; maybe they won't, I say ; 
Understand ? And she'll c — come. Oh, yes, she'll come ! 
she'll do whatever you say, and presently she'll break 
her heart and die for you. She'll never say a word, but 
that's what she'll do." 

"Why, Doctor!" cried David, appalled. "I love her 
as my own life — my very soul." 

"Of — of course. That goes without saying. We 
all do, we men, but we — damn it all ! Do you sup- 
pose I've lived all these years and not seen ? Why — w^e 
think of ourselves first every time. D — don't we, though ? 
Rather!" 

"But selfish as we are, we can love — a man can, if he 
sets himself to it honestly, — love a woman and make her 
happy, even without the appreciation of others, in spite 
of environment, — everything. It's the destiny of women 
to love us, thank God. She would have been doomed 
surely to die if she had married the one who wanted her 
first — or to live a life for her worse than death." 

"Oh, Lord bless you, boy, yes. It's a woman's destiny. 
I'm an old fool. There — there's my own little girl, she's 
m — married and gone — gone to live in England. They 
will do it — the women will. Come, we'll go see Adam." 

The doctor sprang up, brushed his hand across his eyes, 
and caught up a battered silk hat. He turned it about 
and looked at it ruefully, with a quizzical smile playing 
about the corners of his eyes. "Remember that hat.'^" 
he asked. 



214 The Mountain Girl 

"Well do I remember it. You've driven many a mile 
in many a rainstorm by my side under that hat ! When 
you're done with it, leave it to me in your will. I have a 
fancy for it. Will you ? " 

"Here, take it — take it. I'm done with it. Mary 
scolds me every day about it. No p — peace in life because 
of it. Here's a new one I bought the other day — good 
one — good enough." 

He lifted a box which had fallen from his cluttered office 
table, and took from it a new hat which had evidently not 
been unpacked before. He tried it on his head, turned it 
about and about, took it off and gazed at it within and 
without, then hastily tossed it aside and, snatching his 
old one from David put it on his head, and they started 
off. 

Hoyle had been placed in a small ward where were only 
two other little beds, both occupied, with one nurse to 
attend on the three patients. One of them had broken 
his leg and had to lie in a cast, and the other was convalesc- 
ing from fever, but both were well enough to be compan- 
ionable with the lonely little Southerner. Hoyle's face 
beamed upon David as he bent over him. 

"I kin make pi'chers whilst I'm a-lyin' here," he cried 
ecstatically. "That thar lady, she 'lows me to make 
'em. She 'lows mine're good uns." David glanced at 
the young woman indicated. She was pleasant-faced 
and rosy, and looked practical and good. 

"He's such an odd little chap," she said. 

"W^hat be that — odd .^ Does hit mean this 'er lump 
on my back .5^" He pulled David down and w^hispered 
the question in his ear. 

"No, no. She only means that you're a dear, queer 
little chap." 

"Whatbelquarefer?" 

"What are all these drawings.^ Tell us what they 
mean." 

"This'n, hit's the ocean, an' that thar, hit's a steamship 
sailin' on th' ocean, like you done tol' me about. An' 
this'n, hit's our house an' here's whar ol' Pete bides at; 
an' this'n's ol' Pete kickin' out like he hated somethin' like 
he does when we give Frale's colt his corn first." The 
other small boys from their beds laughed out merrily and 



Doctor Hoyle speaks his Mind 215 

strained their necks to see. "These're theirn. I made 
this'n fer him an' this'n fer him." 

He tossed the pictures feebly toward them, and they 
fluttered to the floor. David gathered them up and gave 
them to their respective owners. The old doctor stood 
beside the cot and looked down on the Uttle artist. His 
lips twitched and his eyes twinkled. 

"Which one is y — yours .'^" he asked. 

"I keep this'n with the sea — an' — here, I made this'n 
fer you." He paused, and selected carefully among the 
pile of papers under his hand. "You reckon you kin tell 
what 'tis ^ " 

The doctor took the paper and regarded it gravely a 
moment, then lifted his eyebrows and made grimaces of 
wonderment until the three patients in the three little 
beds were in gales of laughter. At last he said : — 

"It's a pile of s — sausages." 

"Hit hain't no sausages. Hit's jest a straight, cl'ar 
pi'cher of a house, an' hit's your house, too, whar brothah 
David lives at. See ? Thar's the winder, an' the other 
winder hit's on t'othah side whar you can't see hit." 

The doctor turned the paper over and regarded it a 
moment. "Show me the window. I — I see no window 
on the other side." 

Again the three little invalids laughed uproariously at 
their visitor. David smilingly looked on. How often 
had he seen the delightful old man amuse himself thus 
with the children ! He would contort his mobile face into 
all the varying expressions of wonder and dismay, of terror 
or stupefaction, and his entrance to the children's ward 
was always greeted with outcries of delight, when the little 
ones were well enough to allow of such freedom. 

"Haven't you one to send to your sister ? " asked David, 
stooping low to the child and speaking quietly. The boy's 
face lighted with a radiant smile that caused the old man 
to stand regarding him more intently. 

"We'll sen' her this'n of the sea. You reckon hit looks 
like the ocean whar the ships go a-sailin' to t'othah side 
o' the world V^ He held it in his slender fingers and eyed 
it critically. 

"How did j^ou come to try to make a picture of the sea 
when you never saw it .^ " 



216 The Mountain Girl 

"Do' know. I feel like I done seed th' ocean when I'm 
settin' thar on the rock an' them white, big clouds go 
a-sailin' far — far, like they're goin' to anothah world 
an' hain't quite touchin' this'n." 

"I wondered why you had your ship so high above the 
sea." 

"I don't guess hit's a very good'n," said the child, 
ruefully, clinging to the scrap of paper with reluctant 
grasp. "You reckon she'd keer fer this'n.^" 

"I reckon she'd care for anything you made. Give it to 
me, and I'll send it to her." 

"She tol' me the sea, hit war blue, an' I can't make hit 
right blue an' soft like she said. That thar blue pencil, 
hit's too slick. I can't make hit stay on the papah." 

"What are these mounds here on either side of the 
sea.'' 

"Them's mountains." 

"But why did you put mountains in the sea?" The 
boy looked with wide eyes dreamily past the two men 
so attentively regarding him. 

"I — I reckon I jes' put 'em thar fer to look like the sea 
hit war on the world. I don't guess the'd be no ocean nor 
no world 'thout the' war mountains fer to hold everything 
whar hit belongs at." 

"I shall bring you a box of paints to-morrow if the nurse 
will allow you to have them. I'll provide an oilcloth to 
spread around so he won't throw paint over your nice 
clean bed," he said to the pleasant-faced young woman. 

"That's all right, Doctor," she said. 

"Then you can make the blue stay on, and you can make 
the ocean with real water, and real blue for the sky and 
the sea." 

The child's eyes glowed. He pulled David down and 
held him with his arm about his neck, and whispered in 
his ear, and what he said was : — 

"When they're a-pullin' on me to git my hade straight 
an' my back right, I jes' think 'bout the far — far-away sea, 
with the ships a-sailin' an' how hit look, an' hit don't hurt 
so much. I kin b'ar hit a heap bettah. When you comin' 
back, brothah David ? " 

"Does itjburt you very much, Hoyle.'^" 

"I reckon hit have to hurt," said the child, with fatalis- 



Doctor Hoyle speaks his Mind 217 

tic resignation. "I don't guess he'd hurt me 'thoiit he 
had to." He released David slowly, then pulled him 
down again. "Don't tell him I 'lowed hit hurted me. I 
reckon he'd ruthah hurt hisself if he could do me right 
that-a-way. You guess I — I'm goin' to git shet o' the 
misery some day ? " 

"That's what we're trying for, my brave little brother,'* 
and the two physicians bade the small patients good-by 
and walked out upon the street. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

IN WHICH DAVID THRYNG HAS NEWS FROM ENGLAND 

As they passed down the street, David shivered and 
buttoned his light overcoat closer about him. 

"Cold ?" said the older man. 

"Your air is a bit keen here already. I hope it will be 
the needed tonic for that little chap." 

"What were his s — secrets?" David told him. 

"He's imaginative — yes — yes. I really would rather 
hurt myself. He may come on — he may. I've known 

— I've known — curious, but — Why — Hello — hello ! 
Why — where — " and Doctor Hoyle suddenly darted 
forward and shook hands with another old gentleman, 
who was alertly stepping toward them, also thin and wiry, 
but with a face as impassive as the doctor's was mobile 
and expressive. "Mr. Stretton, why — why! David 

— Mr. Stretton, David Thryng— " 

"Ah, Mr. Thryng. I am most happy to find you here." 

"Doctor Thryng — over here on this side, you know." 

"Ah, yes. I had really forgotten. But speaking of 

titles — I must give this young man his correctly. Lord 

Thryng — allow me to congratulate you, my lord." 

"I fear you mistake me for my cousin, sir," said David, 
smiling. "I hope you have no ill news from my good 
uncle; but I am not the David who inherits. I think 
he is in South Africa — or was by the latest home letters." 
Mr. Stretton did not reply directly, but continued 
smiling, as his manner was, and turned toward David's 
companion. 

"Shall we go to my hotel ? I have a great deal to talk 
over — business which concerns — ahem — ahem — your 
lordship, on behalf of your mother, having come ex- 
pressly — " he turned again to David. "Ah, now don't 
be at all alarmed, I beg of you. I see I have disturbed you. 
She is quite well, or was a week or more ago. Doctor 

218 



News from England 219 

Hoyle, you'll accompany us ? At my request. Undoubt- 
edly you are interested in your young friend." 

Mechanically David walked with the two older men, 
filled with a strange sinking of the heart, and at the same 
time with a vague elation. Was he called home by his 
mother to help her sustain a new calamity ^ Had the 
impossible happened .? Mr. Stretton's manner continued 
to be mysteriously deferential toward him, and something 
in his air reminded David of England and the atmosphere 
of his uncle's stately home. Had he ever seen the man 
before ? He really did not know. 

They reached the hotel shortly and were conducted 
to Mr. Stretton's private apartment, where wine was 
ordered, and promptly served. For years thereafter, 
David never heard the clinking of glasses and bottles 
borne on a tray without an instant's sickening sinking 
of the heart, and the foreboding that seemed to drench 
him with dismay as the glasses were placed on the stand 
at Mr. Stretton's elbow. When that gentleman, after 
seeing the waiter disappear, and placing certain papers 
before him, began speaking, David sat dazedly listening. 

What was it all — what was it ^ The glasses seemed 
to quiver and shake, throwing dancing flecks of light; 
and the vane in them — why did it make him think of 
blood ? Were they dead then — all three — his two 
cousins and his brother — dead ^ Shot ! Killed in a 
bloody and useless war ! He was confounded, and bowing 
his head in his hands sat thus — his elbows on his knees 
— waiting, hearing, but not comprehending. 

He could think only of his mother. He saw her face, 
aged and grief-stricken. He knew how she loved the boy 
she had lost, above all, and now she must turn to himself. 
He sat thus while the lawyer read a lengthy document, 
and at the end personally addressed him. Then he 
lifted his head. 

"What is this? My uncle .'^ My uncle gone, too.f* 
Do you mean dead .? My uncle dead, and I — I his 
heir .? " 

The lawyer replied formally, "You are now the head 
of a most ancient and honorable house. You will have 
the dignity of the old name to maintain, and are called 
upon to return to your fatherland and occupy the 



220 The Mountain Girl 

home of your ancestors." He took up one of the papers 
and adjusted his monocle. 

For a time David did not speak. At last he rose and, 
with head erect, extended his hand to the lawyer. "I 
thank you, sir, for your trouble, — but now. Doctor, 
shall we return to your house ? I must take a little time 
to adjust my mind to these terrible events. It is like 
being overtaken with an avalanche at the moment when 
all is most smiling and perfect." 

The lawyer began a few congratulatory remarks, but 
David stopped him, with uplifted hand. 

**It is calamitous. It is too terrible," he said sadly. 
"And what it brings may be far more of a burden than a 

joy." 

"But the name, my lord, — the ancient and honor- 
able lineage ! " 

"That last was already mine, and for the title — I have 
never coveted it, far less all that it entails. I must think 
it over." 

"But, my lord, it is yours ! You can't help your- 
self, you know ; a — the — the position is yours, and you 
will a — fill it with dignity, and — a — let me hope will 
follow the conservative policy of your honored uncle." 

"And I say I must think it over. May I not have a day 
— a single day — in which to mourn the loss of my splen- 
did brother ? Would God he had lived to fill this place ! " 
he said desperately. 

The lawyer bowed deferentially, and Doctor Hoyle 
took David's arm and led him away as if he were his son. 
Not a word was spoken by either of them until they were 
again in the doctor's office. There lay the new silk hat, 
as he had tossed it one side. He took it up and turned it 
about in his hand. 

"You see, David, an old hat is like an old friend, and 
it takes some time to get wonted to a new one." He 
gravely laid the old one within easy reach of his arm and 
restored the new one to its box. Then he sat himself 
near David and placed his hand kindly on his knee. 
"You — you have your work laid out for you, my young 
friend. It's the way in Old England. The stability of 
our society — our national life demands it." 

"I know." 






News from England 221 

"You must go to your mother." 
Yes, I must go to her." 

Of course, of course, and without delay. Well, I'll 
take care of the Httle chap." 

*'I know you will, better than I could." David lifted 
his eyes to his old friend's, then turned them away. "I 
feel him to be a sacred trust." Again he paused. "It 
— would take a — long time to go to her first ? " 

"To — her.'^" For the instant the old man had for- 
gotten Cassandra. Not so David. 

"My wife. It will be desperately hard — for her." 

"Yes, yes. But your uncle, you know, died of grief, 
and your m — mother — " 

"I know — so the lawyer said. Now at last we'll read 
mother's letter. He wondered, I suppose, that I didn't 
look at it when he gave it to me, but I felt conscience- 
stricken. I've been so filled with my life down there — 
the peace, the blessed peace and happiness — that I have 
neglected her — my own mother. I couldn't open and 
read it with that man's eyes on me. No, no. Stay 
here, I beg of you, stay. You are different. I want you." 

He opened his mother's letter and slowly read it, then 
passed it to his friend and, rising, walked to the window 
and stood gazing down into the square. Autumn leaves 
were being tossed and swirled in dancing flights, like 
flocks of brown and yellow birds along the street. The 
sky was overcast, with thin hurrying clouds, and the 
feeling of autumn was in the air, but David's eyes were 
blurred, and he saw nothing before him. The doctor's 
voice broke the silence with sudden impulse. 

"In this she speaks as if she knew nothing about your 
marriage." 

"I told you I had neglected her," cried David, con- 
tritely. 

" But, m — man alive ! why — why in the name of all the 
gods — " 

"All England is filled with fools," cried the younger 
man, desperately. "I could never in the world make 
them understand me or my motives. I gave it up long 
ago. I've not told my mother, to save her from a need- 
less sorrow that would be inflicted on her by her friends. 
They would all flock to her and pester her with their 



222 The Mountain Girl 

outcry of * How very extraordinary ! ' I can hear them 
and see them now. I tell you, if a man steps out of the 
beaten track over there — if he attempts to order his 
own life, marry to please himself, or cut his coat after 
any pattern other than the ordinary conventional lines, 

— even the boys on the street will fling stones at him. 
Her patronizing friends would, at the very least, politely 
raise their eyebrows. She is proud and sensitive, and any 
fling at her sons is a blow to her." 

"But what — " 

*'I say I couldn't tell her. I tell you I have been drink- 
ing from the cup of happiness. I have drained it to the last 
drop. My wife is mine. She does not belong to those 
people over there, to be talked over, and dined over, and 
all her beauty and fineness overlooked through their mon- 
ocles — brutes ! My mountain flower in her homespun 
dress — only poets could understand and appreciate her." 

"B — but what were you going to do about it .f* " 

**Do about it.^ I meant to keep her to myself until 
the right time came. Perhaps in another year bring 
her here and begin life in a modest way, and let my 
mother visit us and see for herself. I was planning it 
out, slowly — but this — You see. Doctor, their ideas 
are all warped over there. They accept all that cus- 
tom decrees and have but the one point of view. The 
true values of life are lost sight of. They have no hill- 
tops like Cassandra's. Only the poets have." 

A quizzical smile played about the old man's mouth. 
He came and laid his arm across David's shoulders, and 
the act softened the slight sting of his words. "And 

— you call yourself a poet ? " 

"Not that," said the young man, humbly, "but I 
have been learning. I would have scorned to be called 
a poet until I learned of this girl and her father. I thought 
I had ideals, and felt my superiority in consequence, until 
I came down to the beginnings of things with them." 

"Her — her father ? Why — he's dead — he — " 

"And yet through her I have learned of him. I believe 
he was a man who walked witk God, and at Cassandra's 
side I have trod in his secret places." 

"That's right. I'm satisfied now, about her. You're 
all right, but — but — your mother," 



News from England 223 

David turned and walked to the table and sat with his 
head bowed on his arms. Had he been alone, he would 
have wept. As it was, he spoke brokenly of his old home, 
and the responsibilities now so ruthlessly thrust upon him. 
Of his mother's grief and his own, and of this inherit- 
ance that he had never dreamed would be his, and 
therefore had never desired, now given him by so 
cruel a blow. He would not shrink from whatever duty 
or obligation might rest upon him, but how could he 
adjust his changed circumstances to the conditions he 
had made for himself by his sudden marriage. At last 
it was decided that he should sail for England without 
delay, taking the passage already provisionally engaged 
for him by Mr. Stretton. 

"I can write to Cassandra. She will understand more 
easily than my mother. She sees into the heart of things. 
Her thoughts go to the truth like arrows of light. She 
will see that I must go, but she must never know — I 
must save her from it if I have to do so at the expense of 
my own soul — that the reason I cannot take her with 
me now is that our great friends over there are too small 
to understand her nature and might despise her. I 
must go to my mother first and feel my way — see what 
can be done. Neither of them must be made to suffer.'* 

*' That's right, perfectly — but don't wait too long. 
Just have it out with your mother — all of them ; the 
sooner the simpler, the sooner the simpler." 



CHAPTER XXV 

IN WHICH DAVID THRYNG VISITS HIS MOTHER 

How wise was the advice of the old doctor to make 
short work of the confession to his mother, and to 
face the matter of his marriage bravely with his august 
friends and connections, David little knew. If his marriage 
had been rash in its haste, nothing in the future should be 
done rashly. Possibly he might be obliged to return to 
America before he made a full revelation that a wife 
awaited him in that far and but dimly appreciated land. 
In his mind the matter resolved itself into a question of 
time and careful adjustment. 

Slowly as the boat ploughed through the never rest- 
ing waters, — slowly as the western land with its dreams 
and realities drifted farther into the vapors that blended 
the line of the land and the sea, — so slowly the future un- 
veiled itself and drew him on, into its new dreams, re- 
vealing, with the inevitable progression of the hours, 
a life heretofore shrouded and only vaguely imagined, as a 
glowing reality filled with opportunity and power. 

He felt his whole nature expand and become imbued 
with intoxicating ambitions, as if hereafter he would be 
swept onward to ride through life triumphant, even as 
the boat was riding the sea, surmounting its mysterious 
depths and taking its unerring way in spite of buffeting 
of winds and beating of waves. 

Still young, with renewed vitality, his hopes turned to 
the future, recognizing the tremendous scope for his ener- 
gies which his own particular prospects presented. Often 
he stood alone in the prow, among the coils of rope, and 
watched the distance unroll before him, while the salt 
breeze played with his clustering hair and filled his lungs. 
He loved the long sweep of the prow, as it divided the 
water and cast it foaming on either side, in opaline and 
turquoise tints, shifting and falling into the indigo depths 
of the vastness around. 

224 



David visits his Mother 225 

In thought he spanned the wide spaces and leaped 
still toward the future ; before him the gray-haired mother 
who trembled to hold him once more in her arms, behind 
him the young wife waiting his return, enclosing him se- 
renely and adoringly in her heart. 

Each day while on shipboard, David wrote to Cas- 
sandra, voluminously. He found it a pleasant way of 
passing the hours. He described his surroundings and 
unfolded such of his anticipations as he felt she could 
best understand and with which she could sympathize, 
trying to explain to her what the years to come might 
hold for them both, and telling her always to wait with pa- 
tience for his return. This could not be known definitely 
until he had looked into the state of his uncle's affairs — 
which would hereafter be his own. 

Sometimes his- letter contained only a review of some 
of the happiest hours they had spent together, as if he 
were placing his thoughts of those blessed days on paper, 
that they might be for their mutual communing. Some- 
times he discoursed of the calamity he had suffered, the 
uselessness of his brother's death, and the cruelty and 
wastefulness of war. At such times he was minded to 
write her of the opportunity now given him to serve his 
country, and the power he might some day attain to pro- 
mote peace and avert rash legislation. 

Never once did he allow an inadvertent word to slip 
from his pen, whereby she could suspect that she, as his 
wife, might be a cause of embarrassment to him, or a clog 
in the wheel of the chariot which from now on was to bear 
him triumphantly among his social friends or political 
enemies. Never would he disturb the sweet serenity that 
encompassed her. Yet well he knew what an incongruity 
she would appear should he present her now — as she had 
stood by her loom, or in the ploughed field at his side — to 
the company he would find in his mother's home. 

Simple and direct as she was, she would walk over their 
conventions and proprieties, and never know it. How 
strange many of those customs of theirs would appear to 
her, and how unnecessary ! He feared for her most in 
her utter ignorance of everything pertaining to the daily 
existence of the over-civilized circle to which the changed 
conditions of his life would bring her. 



£26 The Mountain Girl 

Much, he knew, would pass unseen by her, but soon she 
would begin to understand, and to wince under their 
exclamations of "How extraordinary!" The masklike 
expression would steal over her face, her pride would en- 
case her spirit in the deep reserve he himself had found so 
hard to penetrate, and he could see her withdrawing more 
and more from all, until at last — Ah ! it must not be. 
He must manage very carefully, lest Doctor Hoyle's 
prophecy indeed be fulfilled. 

At last the lifting of the veil to the eastward revealed 
the bold promontory of Land's End, and soon, beyond, 
the fair green slopes of his own beautiful Old England. 
For all of the captious criticism he had fallen in the way of 
bestowing upon her, how he loved her ! He felt as if he 
must throw up his arms and shout for joy. Suddenly 
she had become his, with a sense of possession new to him, 
and sweet to feel. The orderliness and stereotyped lines 
of her social system against which he had rebelled, and 
the iron bars of her customs which his soul had abhorred 
in the past, — against which his spirit had bruised and 
beaten itself, — now lured him on as a security for things 
stable and fine. In subtile ways as yet unrealized, he was 
being drawn back into the cage from which he had fled for 
freedom and life. 

How quickly he had become accustomed to the air of 
deference in Mr. Stretton's continual use of his newly 
acquired title — "my lord." Why not .^^ It was his 
right. The same laws which had held him subservient be- 
fore, now gave him this, and he who a few months earlier 
had been proudly ploughing his first furrows in his little 
leased farm on a mountain meadow, now walked with 
lifted head, "to the manor born," along the platform, and 
entered the first-class compartment with Mr. Stretton, 
where a few rich Americans had already installed them- 
selves. 

David noticed, with inward amusement, their surrepti- 
tious glances, when the lawyer addressed him ; how they 
plumed themselves, yet tried to appear nonchalant and 
indifferent to the fact that they were riding in the same 
compartment with a lord. In time he would cease to 
notice even such incongruities as this tacit homage from 
a professedly title-scorning people. 



David visits his Mother 227 

David's mother had moved into the town house, whither 
his uncle had sent for her, when, stricken with grief, he 
had lain down for his last brief illness. The old servants 
had all been retained, and David was ushered to his 
mother's own sitting-room by the same household digni- 
tary who was wont to preside there when, as a lad, he had 
been allowed rare visits to his cousins in the city. 

How well he remembered his fine, punctilious old uncle, 
and the feeling of awe tempered by anticipation with 
which he used to enter those halls. He was overwhelmed 
with a sense of loss and disaster as he glanced up the 
great stairway where his cousins were wont to come bound- 
ing down to him, handsome, hearty, romping lads. 

It had been a man's household, for his aunt had been 
dead many years — a man's household characterized by a 
man's sense of heavy order without the many touches of 
feminine occupation and arrangement which tend to soften 
a man's half military reign. As he was being led through 
the halls, he ndticed a subtile change which warmed his 
quick senses. Was it the presence of his mother and 
Laura ? His entrance interrupted an animated conversa- 
tion which was being held between the two as the man- 
servant announced his name, and, in another instant, his 
mother was in his arms. 

"Dear little mother! Dear little mother!" But she 
was not small. She was tall and dignified, and David 
had to stoop but little to bring his eyes level with hers. 

"David, I'm here, too." A hand was laid on his arm, 
and he released his mother to turn and look into two warm 
brown eyes. 

"And so the little sister is grown up," he said, embrac- 
ing her, then holding her off at arm's-length. "Five years ! 
When I look at you, mother, they don't seem so long — 
but Laura here !" 

"You didn't expect me to stay a little girl all my life, 
did you, David ?" 

"No, no." He took her by the shoulder and shook her 
a little and pinched her cheeks. "What roses ! Why, sis, 
I say, you know, I'm proud of you. What have you been 
up to, anyway .^ " He flung himself on the sofa and pulled 
her down beside him. "Give an account of yourself." 

"I've gone in for athletics,'* 



228 The Mountain Girl 

"Right." 

"And — Oh ! lots of things. You give an account of 
yourself." 

David glanced at his mother. She was seated opposite 
them, regarding him with brimming eyes. No, he could 
not give an account of himself yet. He would wait until 
he and his mother were alone. He lifted Laura's heavy 
hair, which, confined only by a great bow of black ribbon, 
hung streaming down her back, in a dark mass that gave 
her a tousled, unkempt look, and which, taken together 
with her dead black dress, and her dark tanned skin, 
roughened by exposure to wind and sun, greatly marred 
her beauty, in spite of her roses and the warmth of her 
large dark eyes. 

As David surveyed his sister, he thought of Cassandra, 
and was minded then and there to describe her — to 
attempt to unveil the events of the past year, and make 
them see and know, as far as possible, what his life had 
been. He held this thought a moment, poised ready for 
utterance — a moment of hesitation as to how to begin, 
and then forever lost, as his mother began speaking. 

"Laura hasn't come out yet. As events have turned, 
it is just as well, for her chances, naturally, will be much 
better now than they would have been if we had had her 
coming out last year." 

"I don't see how, mamma, with all this heavy black. 
I can't come out until I leave it off, and it will be so long 
to wait." Laura pouted a little, discontentedly, then 
flushed a disfiguring flush of shame under her dark skin, 
as she caught the look in her brother's eyes. "Not but 
what I shall keep on mourning for Bob, as long as I live 

— he was such a dear," she added, her eyes filling with 
quick, impulsive tears. "But how you make out my 
chances will be better now, mamma, I can't see, really, 

— I look such a fright." 

"Chances for what V asked David, dryly. 

"For matrimony — naturally," his sister flung out 
defiantly, half smiling through her tears. "Don't you 
know that's all a girl of my age lives for — matrimony 
and a kennel ^ I mean to have one, now we will have our 
own preserves. It will be ripping, you know." 

"Certainly, our own preserves," said David, still dryly, 



David visits his Mother 229 

thinking how Cassandra would wonder what preserves 
were, and what she would say if told that in preserves, wild 
harmless animals were kept from being killed by the 
common people for food, in order that those of his own 
class might chase them down and kill them for their 
amusement. 

"Oh, David, I remember how you used to be always 
putting on a look like that, and thinking a lot of nasty 
things under your breath. I hoped you would come home 
vastly improved. Was it what I said about matrimony ? 
Mamma knows it's true." 

"Hardly as you put it, my child ; there is much besides 
for a girl to think about." 

"You said 'chances' yourself, mamma." 

"Certainly, but that is for me to consider. You must 
remember that it was you who refused to have your coming 
out last year." 

"I didn't want my good times cut short then, mamma, 
and have to take up proprieties — or at least I would 
have had to be dreadfully proper for a while, anyway — 
and now — why I have to be naturally ; and here I am 
unable to come out for another year yet and my hair 
streaming down my back all the time. I'm sure I can't 
see how my chances are in the least improved by it all; 
and by that time I shall be so old." 

"Oh, you will be quite young enough," said David. 

"You occupy a far different position now, child. To 
make your debut as Lady Laura will give you quite an- 
other place in the world. Your headstrong postpone- 
ment, fortunately, will do no harm. It will make your 
introduction to the circle where you are eventually to 
move, much simpler." 

Laura lifted her eyebrows and glanced from her mother 
to her brother. "Very well, mamma, but one thing you 
might as well know now. I shan't drop some of my 
friends — if being Lady Laura lifts me above them as high 
as the moon. I like them, and I don't care." 

She whistled, and a beautiful, silken-haired setter crept 
from under the sofa whereon she had been sitting, and 
wriggled about after the manner of guilty dogs. 

"Laura, dear !" 
'Yes, mamma, I've been hiding him with my skirts by 



<<' 



230 The Mountain Girl 

sitting there. He was bad and followed me in. We've 
been out riding together." She stroked his silken coat 
with her riding crop. *' Mamma won't allow him in here, 
and he jolly well knows it. Bad Zip, bad, sir ! Look at 
him. Isn't he clever ? I must go and dress for dinner. 
Mamma wants you to herself, I know, and Mr. Stretton 
will be, here soon. You can't think, David, how glad I 
am we have you back ! You couldn't think it from my 
way — but I am — rather ! It's been awful here — 
simply awful, since the boys all left." 

Again her eyes filled with quick tears, and she dashed 
out with the dog bounding about her and leaping up to 
thrust his great tongue in her face. "You are too big for 
the house. Zip. Down, sir!" In an instant she was 
back, putting her tousled head in at the door. 

*' David, when mamma is finished with you, come out 
and see my dogs. I have five already, and Nancy is going 
to litter soon. Calkins is to take them into the country 
to-morrow, for they are just cooped up here." She with- 
drew, and David heard her heavy-soled shoes clatter down 
the long halls. He and his mother smiled as they listened, 
looking into each other's eyes. 

"She is a dear child, but life means only a good time to 
her as yet." 

"Well, let it. She has splendid stuff in her and is 
bound to make a splendid woman." 

"She's right, David, It has been awful since your 
brother left." David sat beside her and placed his hand 
on hers. Again it was in his mind to tell her of Cassandra, 
and again he was stopped by the tenor of her next remark. 
"You see how it is, my son; Laura can't understand, but 
you will." 

"I'm not sure that I do. Open your heart to me, mother ; 
tell me what you mean.'* 

"My dear son. I don't like to begin with worries. It 
is so sweet to have you back in the home. May you 
always stay with us." 

"I don't mind the worries, mother," he said tenderly; 
"I am here to help you. What is it ?" 

"It is only that, although we have inherited the title 
and estates, we are not there. We will be received, of 
course, but at first only by those who have axes to grind. 



David visits his Mother 231 

There are so many such, and it is hard to protect one's 
self from them. For instance, there is Lady WiUisbeck. 
Her own set have cut her completely for — certain reasons 
— there is no need to retail unpleasant gossip, — but she was 
one of the first to call. Her daughter, Lady Isabel, gave 
Laura that dog, — but all the more because Laura and Lady 
Isabel were in school together, and were on the same hockey 
team, they will have that excuse for clinging to us like burs. 

" Lady WiUisbeck would like very much now, for her 
daughter's sake, to win back her place in society, although 
she did not seem to value it for herself. Long before her 
mother's life became common talk, — because slj^e was in- 
fatuated with your cousin Lyon, Lady Isabel chose Laura 
for her chum, and the two have worked up a very romantic 
situation out of the affair. You see I have cause for 
anxiety, David, since the title is only mine and Laura's by 
courtesy, we must not presume upon it." 

He still held her hand, looking kindly in her face. " Is 
Lady Isabel the right sort ? " he asked. 

" What do you mean by ' the right sort,' David ? She 
isn't like her mother, naturally, or I would have been more 
decided ; but she is not the right sort for us. Lady Willis- 
beck is ostracized, and it is a grave matter. Her daughter 
will be ostracized with her, unless she can find a chaperone 
of quality to champion her — to — to — well, you under- 
stand that Laura can't afford to make her debut handi- 
capped with such a friendship. Not now." 

" I fail to see until I know more of her friend." 

" But, David, we can't be visionary now. We must be 
practical and face the difiiculties of our situation. We 
are honorably entitled to all that the inheritance implies, 
but it is another thing to avail ourselves of it. Your 
uncle led a most secluded life. He had no visitors, and 
was known only among men, and politically as a close 
conservative. His seat in the House meant onlv that. 
So now we enter a circle in which we never moved before, 
and we are not rf it. For the present, our deep mourning 
is prohibitory, but it is also Laura's protection, although 
she does not know it." His mother paused. She was 
not regarding him. She seemed to be looking into the 
future, and a little line, which had formed during the 
years of David's absence, deepened in her forehead. 



232 The Mountain Girl 

"Be a little more explicit, mother. Protection from 
what ? " 

"From undesirable people, dear. We are very con- 
spicuous ; to be frank, we are new. My own family con- 
nections are all good, but they will not be the slightest 
help to Laura in maintaining her position. We have 
always lived in the country, and know no one." 

"You have refinement and good taste, mother." 

"I know it; that and this inheritance and the title." 

"Isn't that 'protection' enough ? I really fail to see — 
Whatever would please you would be right. You may 
have what friendships you — " 

"Not at all, David. Everything is iron-bound. 
They are simply watching lest we bring a lot of common 
people in our train. Things grow worse and worse in 
that way. There are so many rich tradespeople who are 
struggling to get in, and clinging desperately to the skirts 
of the poorer nobility. Of course, it all goes to show what 
a tremendous thing good birth is, and the iron laws of 
custom are, after all, a proper safeguard and should be 
respected. Nevertheless we, who are so new, must not 
allow ourselves to become stepping-stones. It is per- 
fectly right. 

"That is why I said this period of mourning is Laura's 
protection. She will have time to know what friendships 
are best, and an opportunity to avoid undesirable ones. 
You have been away so long, David, where the class lines 
are not so rigidly drawn, that you forget — or never knew. 
It is my duty, without any foolish sentiment, to guard 
Laura and see to it that her coming out is what it should be. 
For one thing, she is so very plain. If she were a beauty, 
it would help, but her plainness must be compensated for 
in other ways. She will have a large settlement, Mr. 
Stretton thinks, if your uncle's interests are not too much 
jeopardized in South Africa by this terrible war. That 
is something you will have to look into before you take 
your seat in the House." 

"Oh, mother, mother ! I can't — " 

"My dear boy, your brother died for his countr3^ and 
can you not give a little of your life for it ? I can rely on 
you to be practically inclined, now that you are placed at 
the head of such a family ? I'm glad now you never 



David visits his Mother 233 

cared for Muriel Hunt. She could never have filled the 
position as her ladyship, your uncle's wife, did. She 
was Lady Thomasia Harcourt Glendyne of Wales. Be- 
side her, Muriel would appear silly. It is most fortunate 
you have no such entanglement now." 

"Mother, mother! I am astounded! I never dreamed 
my dear, beautiful mother could descend to such worldli- 
ness. You are changed, mother. There is something fun- 
damentally wrong in all this." 

She looked up at him, aghast at his vehemence. 

'*My son, my son ! Let us have only love between us 

— only love. I am not changed. I was content as I was, 
nor ever tried to enter a sphere above me. Now that 
this comes to me — forced on me by right of English law 

— I take it thankfully, with all it brings. I will fill the 
place as it should be filled, and Laura shall do the same, 
and you also, my son. As for Muriel Hunt, I will make 
concessions if — if your happiness demands it." 

David groaned inwardly. "No, mother, no. It goes 
deeper than Muriel; it goes deeper." They had both 
risen. She placed her hands on his shoulders and looked 
levelly in his eyes, and her own lightened, through tears 
held bravely back. 

"It may well go deeper than Muriel, and still not go 
very deep." 

" And yet the time was when Muriel Hunt was thought 
quite deep enough," he said sadly, still looking in his 
mother's eyes — but she only continued : — 

" Never doubt for a moment, dear, that Laura's welfare 
and yours are dearer to me than life. You are very 
weary; I see it in your eyes. Have you been to your 
apartment ? Clark will show you." She kissed his brow 
and departed. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

IN WHICH DAVID THRYNG ADJUSTS HIS LIFE TO NEW 

CONDITIONS 

David stood where his mother had left him, dazed, 
hurt, sad. He was desperately minded to leave all and 
flee back to the hills — back to the life he had left in 
Canada. He saw the clear, true look of Cassandra's eyes 
meeting his. His heart called for her; his soul cried out 
within him. He felt like one launched on an irresistible 
current which was sweeping him ever nearer to a mael- 
strom wherein he was inevitably to be swallowed up. 

He perceived that to his mother the established order 
of things there in her little island was sacred — an arrange- 
ment to be still further upheld and solidified. She had 
suddenly become a part of a great system, intrusted 
with a care for its maintenance and stability, as one of its 
guardians. Before, it had mattered little to her, for she 
was not of it. Now it was very different. 

Slowly David followed Clark to his own apartments. 
He had been given those of the old lord, his uncle. Every- 
thing about him was dark, massive, and rich, but without 
grace. His bags and boxes had been unpacked and his 
dinner suit laid in readiness, and Clark stood stiffly await- 
ing orders. 

"Will you have a shave, my lord ?" 

The man's manner jarred on him. It was obsequious, 
and he hated it. Yet it was only the custom. Clark was 
simple-hearted and kindly, filling his little place in the 
upholding of the system of which he was a part ; had his 
manner been different, a shade more familiar, David would 
have resented it and ordered him out, — but of this David 
was not conscious. In spite of his scruples, he was born 
and bred an aristocrat. 

"No — a — I'll shave myself." Still the man waited, 
and, taking up David's coat, flicked a particle of dust 
from the collar. " I don't want anything. You may go." 

234 



New Conditions 235 

"Thank you." Clark melted quietly out of the apart- 
ment. 

"Thanks me for being rude to him," thought David, 
irritably ; "I shall take pleasure in being rude to him. My 
God ! What a farce life is over here ! The whole thing is 
a farce." 

He shaved himself and cut his chin, and when he ap- 
peared later with a patch of court-plaster thereon, Clark 
commented to himself on "his lordship's" inability to do 
the shaving properly. 

As David thought over his mother's words — her out- 
look on life — his sister's idle aims — the companionships 
she must have and the kind of talk to which she must 
listen — he grew more and more annoyed. He contrasted 
it all with the past. His mother, who had been so noble 
and fine, seemed to have lost individuality, to have become 
only a segment of a circle which it was henceforth to be 
her highest care to keep intact. Laura must become a 
part of the same sacred ring, and he, too, must join hands 
with those who formed it and make it his duty to keep 
others out. 

There were also other circles guarded and protected by 
this one — circles within circles — each smaller and more 
exclusive than the last. The object of the huge game of 
life over here seemed to be to keep the great mass of those 
whom they regarded as commonalty out of any one of the 
circles, while striving individually each to climb into the 
one next above, and more contracted. The most madden- 
ing thing of all was to find his grave, dignified mother 
drawn in and made a partaker in this meaningless strife. 

Still essentially an outsider, David could look with 
larger vision — the far-seeing vision of the western land, 
the hilltops and the dividing sea, — and to him now the 
circles seemed verily the concentric rings of the maelstrom 
into which events were hurrying him. Would he be able 
to rise from the swirling flotsam and ride free ? 

The deeper philosophy underlying it all he as yet but 
vaguely understood ; that the highest good for all could 
only be maintained by stability in the commonwealth; 
as the tremendous rock foundations of the earth are a 
support for the growth thereon of all perfection, all grace 
and beauty ; that the concentric rings, when rightly 



236 The Mountain Girl 

understood, should become a means of purification — of 
reward for true worth — of power for noblest service, and 
not for personal ambition and the unmolested gratification 
of vicious tastes. 

David did not as yet know that his clear-seeing wife 
could help him to the attainment of his greatest possibili- 
ties, right here where he feared to bring her — the wife of 
whom he dare not tell his mother. Blinded by the world's 
estimates which he still had sense enough to despise, he 
did not know that the key to its deepest secrets lay in her 
heart, nor that of the two, her heritage of the large spirit 
and the inward-seeing eye direct to the Creator's meanings 
was the greater heritage. 

Lady Thryng found it possible to have a few words with 
the lawyer before David appeared, and impressed upon 
him the necessity of interesting her son in this new field 
by showing him avenues for power and work. 

"I don't quite understand the boy," she said. "After 
seeing the world and going his own way, I really thought 
he would outgrow that sort of moody sentimentalism, but 
it seems to be returning. He is quixotic enough to turn 
away from everything here and go back to Canada, unless 
you can awaken his interest." 

"I see, I see," said the lawyer. 

"Mere personal ambition will not satisfy him," added 
his mother, proudly. "He must see opportunities for 
service. He must understand that he is needed." 

"I see. I understand. He must be dealt with along 
the line of his nobler impulses — ahem — ahem — " and 
David appeared. 

His mother rose and took his arm to walk out to dinner, 
while Laura, who should have gone with Mr. Stretton, 
did not see his proffered arm, but, provokingly indifferent, 
strolled out by herself. 

David, absorbed in his own thoughts, did not notice his 
sister's careless mien, but the mother observed the inde- 
pendent and boyish swing of her daughter's shoulders, and 
resented it with a slightly reproving glance after they were 
seated. 

Laura lifted her eyebrows and one shoulder with an irri- 
tating half shrug. "What is it, mamma V she asked, but 
Ladv Thryng allowed the question to go unheeded, and 



New Conditions 237 

turned her attention to the two gentlemen during the rest 
of the meal. 

All through dinner David was haunted by Cassandra's 
talk with him, the night he dreamed she was being swept 
out of his arms forever by a swift, cold current which, from 
a little purling stream high up on a mountain top, had 
become a dark, relentless flood, overwhelming them utterly. 
What was she doing now ? Did she know she was in that 
terrible flood ? Was she really being swept from him ? 
Ah, never, never ! He would not allow it, if he must 
break all hearts but hers. 

The meal progressed sombrely and heavily, with much 
ceremony, although they were so few. Was his mother 
practising for the future that she kept such rigid state ? He 
suspected as much, and that Laura was being trained to the 
right way of carrying herself, but that and the real sorrow 
of the family over their bereavement made a most oppres- 
sive atmosphere. Might this be the shadow Cassandra 
had seen lying across their future ? Only a passing cloud 
— a vapor ; it must be only that. 

Laura and her mother withdrew early, leaving David 
and the lawyer together, when Mr. Stretton immediately 
launched into talk of David's prospects and resources. 
In spite of himself, the gloom of the dinner hour slipped 
from him, and soon he was taking the liveliest interest in 
what might be possible for him here and now. 

Although not one to be easily turned from a chosen path 
by outside influence, David yet had that almost fatal gift 
of the imaginative mind of seeing things from many sides, 
until at times they took on a kaleidoscopic reversibility. 
Now this unlooked-for development of his life opened to 
him a vista — new — and yet old, old as England herself. 

While digging deep into the causes of his former dis- 
content, he had come to strike his spade upon the rock 
foundations whereon all this complicated superstructure of 
English society and national life was builded. He saw 
that every nobleman inherited with his title and his lands 
a responsibility for the welfare of the whole people, from 
the poorest laborer in the ditch or the coal m^ne, to the 
head wearing the crown ; and that it was the blindness of 
individuals like himself or his uncle before him, their misuse 
or unscrupulous indifference to and abuse of power, which 



238 The Mountain Girl 

had brought about those conditions under which the 
masses were writhing, and against which they were crying 
out. He saw that it was only by the earnest efforts of the 
few who did understand — the few who were not indiffer- 
ent — that the stabihty of EngHsh government was still 
her glory. 

At last he rose and lifted his arms high above his head, 
then dropped them to his side. "I see.'* He held up 
his head and looked off as he had done when he stood on 
the prow of the steamship, with the salt breeze tossing his 
hair. "A little of this came to me as I crossed the ocean, 
when I saw the green slopes of England again. I knew I 
loved her, and the old feeling of impotence that hounded 
me in the past, when I could do nothing but rebel, slipped 
from me. I felt what it might be to have power — to 
become effective instead of being obliged to chafe under the 
yoke of an imposed submission to things which are wrong 
— things which those who are in power might set right 
if they would. I believe, for a moment, Mr. Stretton, I 
felt it all." 

He paused and bowed his head. All at once in the midst 
of his exaltation, he saw Cassandra standing white and 
still, as he had seen her on the hilltop before their little 
cabin, looking after him when he bade her good-by ; and 
just as he then turned and went swiftly back to her, so 
now in his soul he turned to her yearningly and took her 
to his breast. Still penetrating the sweet, white halo of 
this vision, he heard the voice of Mr. Stretton deferen- 
tially droning on. 

"And with your resources — the wealth which, with a 
little care and thought just now at this crucial moment, 
will be yours — " 

Still David stood with bowed head. 

"It is as if you were predestined, my lord, to step in at 
a critical time of your country's need — with brains, 
education, conscience, and wealth — with every obstacle 
swept away." 

Still before him stood Cassandra, white and silent; he 
could see only her. 

"Every obstacle swept away," repeated the lawyer. 

"And Cassandra, God help her and me." David slowly 
turned, lifted a glass of wine from the table, and drank it. 



New Conditions 239 

"Well, so be it, so be it," he said aloud. ** We'll join 
mother and Laura." At the door he paused, "You spoke 
of education — the learning of a physician is but little in 
the line of statesmanship. How soon will I be expected 
to take my seat .^" 

"If you ask my advice, my lord, I would say better 
wait a year. It will be advisable for you to go yourself 
to South Africa and look into your uncle's investments 
there — as a private individual, of course, not as a public 
servant. Two-thirds of the receipts have fallen off since 
the war ; learn what may be saved from the wreckage, or if 
there be a wreckage. I'm inclined to think not all, for 
the investments were varied. Your uncle may have been 
a silent member, but he was certainly a man of good busi- 
ness judgment — " Mr. Stretton paused and coughed a 
little apologetically before adding: "Not an inherited 
talent, only — ah — cultivated — cultivated — you know. 
Good business judgment is not a trait inherent in our peer- 
age, as a rule." 

David was amused and entered the drawing-room with a 
smile on his face. His mother was pleased and rose in- 
stantly, coming forward with both hands extended to take 
his. He understood it as a welcome back to the family 
circle, the quiet talks and the evening lamp, less formal 
than the oppressive dinner had been. He held her hands 
thus offered and kissed the little anxious line on her brow, 
then playfully smoothed it with his finger. 

"We mustn't let it become permanent, you know, 
mother." 

"No, David. It will go now you are at home." 

He did not know that his mother and Laura had been 
having a liveh^ discussion apropos of the silent tilt at the 
dinner-table, his sister pleading for a return to the old 
ways, and a release from such state and ceremony. "At 
least while we are by ourselves, mamma. Anyway, I 
know David will just hate it, and I don't see what good a 
title is if we must become perfect slaves to it." 

David crossed the room and sat down before the piano. 
"How strange this old place seems without the others — 
Bob, and the cousins, and uncle himself ! We weren't 
admitted often — but — " 

"Sh — sh — " said Laura, who had followed him and 



240 The Mountain Girl 

stood at his side. "Don't remind mamma. She remem- 
bers too much — all the time. Play the ' King's Hunting 
Jig,' David. Remember how you used to play it for me 
every evening after dinner, when I was a girl ?" 

*'Do I remember ? Rather ! I have done nothing with 
the piano since then — when you were a girl. I'll play it 
for you now, while you are a girl." 

"But I really am grown up now, David. It's quite 
absurd for me to go about like this. It's only because 
mamma chooses to have it so. She even keeps a governess 
for me still." 

"To her you are a child, and to me you are still a girl, 
and a mighty fine one." 

"It's so good to have you back, David ! You haven't 
forgotten the Jig ! Where's your flute ? Get it, and I'll 
accompany you. I can drum a little now — after a 
fashion. We'll let them talk." 

So they amused themselves for the rest of the evening 
with music, and Lady Thryng's face lost the strained and 
harassed expression it had worn all during dinner, and 
took on a look of contentment. After this the days were 
spent by David in going over his uncle's large mass of 
papers and correspondence, with the aid of Mr. Stretton 
and a secretary. A colossal task it proved to be. 

No one, even his lawyer, who had his confidence more 
than any one else, knew in what the old Lord Thryng's 
wealth really consisted, although Mr. Stretton surmised 
much of his surplus income of late years had been placed 
in Africa. As his papers had not been set in order or 
tabulated for years, every note, land loan, mortgage, and 
rental had to be unearthed slowly and laboriously from 
among a mass of written matter and figures, more or less 
worthless ; for the old lord had a habit of saving every 
scrap of paper — the backs of notes and letters — for 
summing up accounts and jotting down memoranda and 
dates. 

Certain hours of each day David devoted to this labor, 
collecting his papers in a small room opening off from the 
law chambers of Mr. Stretton, where for years his uncle 
had kept a private safe. Conscientiously he toiled at the 
monotonous task, until weeks, then months, slipped by, 
hardly noticed, ignoring all social life. When his mother 



New Conditions 241 

or Laura broached the subject, he would say : " * Sufficient 
unto the day is the evil thereof, ' and this must be done 
first." 

He was not unmindful of his wife during this interval, 
but wrote frequently, and, to guard against any danger of 
her being left without resources should something unfore- 
seen befall him, he placed in Bishop Towers's hands the 
residue of money remaining to him in Canada, for Cas- 
sandra. He wrote her to use it as occasion required, and 
not to spare it, that it was hers without restriction. He 
sent her the names of books he wished she would read — 
that she should write the publishers for them. He begged 
her to do no more weaving for money — but only for her 
own amusement, and above all to trust and be happy, not 
to be sorrowful for this long delay, which he would cut as 
short as he could. 

Much of his occupation he could not explain to her, and 
of ttimes it was hard to find matter for his letters ; then he 
would revert to reminiscence. These were the letters she 
loved best and sometimes wept over, and these were the 
letters that often left him dreamy and sad, and sometimes 
made him distraught when his mother and Laura talked 
over their affairs, so utterly alien to his thoughts and long- 
ings. 

Cassandra's replies were for the most part short, but 
they were sent with unfailing regularity, and always they 
seemed to bring with them a breath from her own moun- 
tain top — naive — tender — absolutely trusting — often 
quaintly worded, and telling of the simple, innocent things 
of her life. He could see that she held herself in reserve, 
even as her nature was ; a psychologic something was held 
back. He could not dream what it might be, but reasoned 
with himself that it was only that she found it harder to 
unveil her thoughts by means of the pen than in speech. 

One day, as he rode alone in the park, he noticed that the 
leaf buds were swelling. What ! Was spring upon them ? 
A white fog was lifting, and every twig and stem held its 
tiny pearl of wetness. All the earth glistened and was 
clean and looked as if greenness was returning. He 
regarded the artificial effects around him, the long lines of 
trees and set clumps of shrubbery, and was seized with a 
desire well-nigh irresistible for the wild roads and rugged 



242 The Mountain Girl 

steeps — the wandering streams and sound of falling 
waters. 

He saw it all again, the blossoming spring where Cas- 
sandra sat waiting for him, and he resolved to start with- 
out delay — to go to her and bring her back with him. All 
this sordid calculation of the amount of his fortune — his 
mother's and sister's shares — the annuities of poor de- 
pendents — stocks to be bought — interest to be invested 
— the government, and his future part therein, pah ! It 
must wait ! He would have his own. His heritage should 
not be his curse. 

He returned in haste that day, only to learn that certain 
facts had been unearthed which necessitated a journey 
into Wales, where interests of the former Lady Thryng's 
estates^ were concerned. His uncle had inherited all from 
her with the exception of certain bequests to relatives with 
which he had been intrusted. Some of the records had 
been lost, and whether the beneficiaries were dead or not, 
none knew, but now and then letters came pleading for a 
continuance of former favors, and recalling obligations. 

Mr. Stretton had been ill for a week, and now that the 
records were found, David must go, and go at once. The 
lawyer had many subjects for investigation to deliver to 
David. There was the death-bed request of an old nurse 
of his aunt, who had an annuity, that it be extended to 
her crippled granddaughter. She lived among the Cornish 
hills. Would he hunt the family up and learn if they were 
worthy or impostors ? His uncle had been endlessly 
plagued with such importunities — and so on — and so on. 

Yes, certainly David would go. He made a mental 
reservation that he would sail, without returning to London, 
and then make a clean breast of his affairs by letter to his 
mother. She had improved in health during the winter, 
and he thought his information would be received by her 
with more equanimity than it would have been earlier. 
Moreover, she had broached the subject of marriage to 
him more than once, but always in one of her most worldly 
moods, when he shrank from hearing Cassandra spoken of 
as he knew she would be — when he could not hear her 
discussed, nor reply with calmness to such questions as he 
knew must ensue. 

David had little time to brood over his peculiar difficulty. 



New Conditions 243 

as his short journey was full of business interest and new 
experiences. Yet the Cornish hills awoke in him a still 
greater eagerness for the mountains of his dreams, and, 
after securing his passage, he went to his hotel to prepare 
the letter to his mother. 

It is marvellous what trivial events alter destinies. In 
this instance it was the yapping of a small dog which 
changed David's plans, and finally sent him to South 
Africa instead of America. While paying his bill at the 
hotel, a telegram was handed him, which he tore open as 
the clerk was counting out his change. He still held in 
his hand the letter to his mother which he was on the point 
of dropping in the letter-box at his elbow. Instead, he 
thrust it in his pocket, along Avith the crushed telegram, 
and, taking a cab, hastened to the steamship offices to 
cancel his date for sailing. 

The message read: "Return with all speed to London. 
Mr. Stretton lying in the hospital with a fractured skull." 
Thus it was that Lady Tredwell's pet spaniel, old and vi- 
cious, yapping at the heels of Mr. Stretton's restive horse, 
while my lady's maid — who should have been leading 
him out for an airing — was absorbed in listening to the 
compliments of one of the park guards, played so dire a 
part in the affairs of David Thryng. 






CHAPTER XXVII 

IN WHICH THE OLD DOCTOR AND LITTLE HOYLE COME 

BACK TO THE MOUNTAINS 

Cassandra, seated on the great hanging rock before 
her cabin, watched the sunrise where David had so often 
stood and waited for the dawn during his winter there 
alone. This morning the mists obscured the valleys and 
the base of the mountains, while the sky and the whole 
earth glowed with warm rose color. 

Presently she rose and walked with lifted head into the 
cabin, and prepared to light a fire on the hearth. In the 
canvas room the bed was made smoothly, as she had made 
it the morning David left. No one had slept in it since, 
although Cassandra spent most of her days there. Every- 
thing he had used was carefully kept as he had left it. His 
microscope, covered from dust, stood with the last speci- 
men still under the lens. A book they were reading to- 
gether lay on the corner shelf, with the mark still in the 
place where they had read last. 

After lighting the fire, she sat near it, watching the 
flames steal up from the small pile of fat pine chips under- 
neath, sending up red tongues of fire, until the great logs 
were wrapped in the hot embrace of the flames, trembling, 
quivering, and leaping high in their mad joy, transmuting 
all they touched. 

"It's like love," she murmured, and smiled. "Only it's 
quicker. It does in one hour what love takes a lifetime 
to do. Those logs might have lain on the ground and 
rotted if they'd been left alone, but now the fire just holds 
them and caresses them like, and they grow warm and 
glow like the sun, and give all they can while they last, 
until they're almost too bright to look at. I reckon God 
has been right good to me net to let me lie and rot my life 
away. He sent David to set my heart on fire, and I guess 
I can wait for him to come back to me in God's own time.'* 

She rose and brought from the canvas room a basket of 

244 



Back to the Mountains 245 

willow, woven in open-work pattern. It was a gift from 
Azalea, who had learned from her mother the art of bas- 
ket weaving. Some said Azalea's grandmother was half 
Indian, and that it was from her they had learned their 
quaint patterns and shapes, and that she, and her Indian 
mother before her, had been famous basket weavers. 

This pretty basket was filled with very delicate work of 
fine muslin, much finer than anything Cassandra had ever 
worked upon before. Her hands no longer showed signs 
of having been employed in rough, coarse tasks ; they were 
soft and white. She placed the basket of dainty sewing on 
the same table which had served as an altar when she knelt 
beside David and w^as made his wife. It was serving as an 
altar still, bearing that basket of delicate work. 

She had become absorbed in a book — not one of those 
David had suggested. It is doubtful, had he been there, 
whether he would have really liked to see her reading this 
one, although it was written by Thackeray, dear to all 
English hearts. It is more than probable that he would 
have thought his young wife hardly need be enlightened 
upon just the sort of things with which Vanity Fair enriches 
the understanding. 

Be it how it may, Cassandra was reading Vanity Fair, 
which she found in the box of books David had opened so 
long before. While she read she worked with her fingers, 
incessantly, at a piece of narrow lace, with a shuttle and 
very fine thread. This she did so mechanically that she 
could easily read at the same time by propping the book 
open on the table before her. For a long time she sat 
thus, growing more and more interested, until the fire 
burned low, and she rose to replenish it. 

The logs w^ere piled beside the door of the small kitchen 
David had built for her, and where he had placed the cook 
stove. She had come up early this morning, because she 
was sad over his last letter, in which he had told her of his 
disappointment in having to cancel his passage to America. 
Hopeful and cheery though the letter was, it had struck 
dismay to her heart ; it was her way when sad, and 
longing for her husband, to go up to her little cabin — her 
own home — and think it all over alone and thus regain 
her equanimity. 

Here she read and thought things out by herself. What 



246 The Mountain Girl 

strange people they were over there ! Or perhaps that was 
so long ago — they might have changed by this time. 
Surely they must have changed, or David would have said 
something about it. He never would become a lord, to 
be one of such people — never — never ! It was not at all 
li^e David. 

A figure appeared in the doorway. "Cassandra! 
What are you doing here all by yourself "^ " 

It was Betty Towers. Cassandra ran joyfully forward 
and clasped the little woman in her arms. Almost carrying 
her in, she sat her by the pleasant open fire. Then, seeing 
Betty's eyes regarding her questioningly, she suddenly 
dropped into her ovn\ chair by the table, leaned her head 
upon her arms, and began to weep, silently. 

In an instant Betty was kneeling by her side, holding 
the lovely head to her breast. "Dearest ! You shan't 
cry. You shan't cry like that. Tell me all about it. 
Why on earth doesn't Doctor Thryng come home ^ " 

Cassandra lifted her head and dried her tears. "He 
was coming. The last letter but one said he was to sail 
next day. Then last night came another saying the only 
man who could look after very important business for 
him had been thrown from his horse and hurt so bad he 
may die, and David had to give up his passage and go 
back to London. He may have to go to Africa. He felt 
right bad — but — " 

"Goodness me, child! ^Tiy, he has no business now 
more important than you ! What a chump ! " 

Cassandra stiffened proudly and drew away, taking up 
her shuttle and beginning her work calmly as if nothing 
had happened to destroy her composure. 

"I've not written David — anything to disturb him — 
or make him hurry home." 

"Oh, Cassandra, Cassandra! You're not treating 
either him or yourself fairly." 

"For him — I can't help it; and for me, I don't care. 
Other women have got along as best they could in these 
mountains, and I can bear what they have borne." 

"But why on earth haven't you told him V* 

Cassandra bent her head lower over her bit of lace and 
was silent. Betty drew her chair nearer and put her arms 
about the drooping girl. 



Back to the Mountains 247 

"Can't you tell me all about it, dear?'* 

**Not if you are going to blame David." 

"I won't, you lovely thing ! I can't, since he doesn't 
know — but why — " 

"At first I couldn't speak. I tried, but I couldn't. 
Then he had to take Hoyle North, and I thought he would 
see for himself when he came back — or I could tell him 
by that time. Then came that dreadful news — you 
know — four, all dead. His brother and his two cousins 
all killed, and his uncle dying of grief ; and he had to go to 
his mother or she might die, too, and then he found so 
much to do. Now, you know he has to be a — " 

She was going to say "a lord," but, happening to glance 
down at her open book, the name of "Lord Steyne" 
caught her eye, and it seemed to her a title of disgrace. 
She must talk with David before she allowed him to be 
known as "a lord," so she ended hurriedly : "He has to be 
a different kind of a man, now — not a doctor. He has 
a great many things to do and look after. If I told him, 
he would leave everything and come to me, even if he 
ought not, and if he couldn't come, he would be troubled 
and unhappy. \Miy should I make him unhappy ? When 
he does come home, he'll be glad — oh, so glad ! Why 
need he know when the knowing will do no good, and when 
he will come to me as soon as he can, anyway ?'' 

"You strange girl, Cassandra ! You brave old dear ! 
But he must come, that's all. It is his right to know and 
to come. I can tell him. Let me." 

"No, no. Please, Mrs. Towers, you must not. He will 
come back as soon as he can ; and now — now — he will 
be too late, since he — he did not sail when he meant to." 

Betty rose with a set look about the mouth. "Unless 
we cable him, Cassandra. Would there be time in that 
case ? Come, vou must tell me." 

"No, no," wailed the girl. "And now he must not 
know until he comes. It would be cruel. I will not let 
you write him or cable him either." 

"Then what will you do ?" 

"Oh, I don't know. I'll think out a way. You'll 
help me think, but you must promise me not to write to 
David. I send him a letter every day, but I never tell 
him anything that would make him uneasy, because he 



248 The Mountain Girl 

has very important business there for his mother and 
sister, even more than for himself. You see how bad I 
would be to write troubling things to him when he 
couldn't help me or come to me. " A light broke over 
Betty Towers's face. 

"I can think out a way, dear, of course I can. Just 
leave matters to me." 

Thus it was that Doctor Hoyle received a letter in 
Betty's own impassioned and impulsive style, begging 
him, for love's sake, to leave all and come back to the 
mountains and his own little cabin, where Cassandra 
needed him. 

"Never mind Doctor Thryng or anything surprising 
about his being absent ; just come if you possibly can and 
hear what Cassandra has to say about it before you judge 
him. She is quaint and queer and wholly lovely. If you 
can bring little Hoyle with you, do so, for I fear his mother 
is grieving to see him. She wrote me a most peculiar 
and pathetic letter, saying her daughter was so silent about 
her affairs that she herself * war nigh about dead fer 
worryin', and would I please come and see could I make 
Cass talk a lee tie,' so you may be sure there is need of you. 
The winter is glorious in the mountains this year. Your 
appearance will set everything right at the Fall Place, 
and Cassandra w^ill be safe." 

Old Time, the unfailing, who always marches apace, 
bringing with him changes for good or evil, brought the 
dear old doctor back to the Fall Place — brought the small 
Adam Hoyle, with his queer little twisted neck and 
hunched back, drawn by harness and plaster into a much 
improved condition, although not straight yet — brought 
many letters from David filled with postponements and 
regrets therefor — and brought also a little son for Cas- 
sandra to hold to her bosom and dream and pray over. 

And the dreams and the prayers travelled far — far, to 
the sunny-haired Englishman wrapped in the intricate 
affairs of a great estate. How much money would accrue ? 
How should it be spent ? "WTiat improvements should be 
made in their country home ? WTien Laura's coming 
out should be ? How many of her old companions might 
she retain ? How many might she call friends ? How 



Back to the Mountains 249 

many were to be hereafter thrust out as quite impossible ? 
Should she be allowed a kennel, or should her sporting 
tendencies be discouraged ? 

All these things were forced upon David's consideration ; 
how then could he return to his young wife, especially 
when he could not yet bring himself to say to his world 
that he had a young wife. Impatient he might be, nervous, 
and even irritable, but still what could he do ? While 
there in the far-away hills sat Cassandra, loving him, 
brooding over him with serene and peaceful longing, hold- 
ing his baby to her white breast, holding his baby's hand to 
her lips, full of courage, strong in her faith, patient in 
spirit, until as days and weeks passed she grew well and 
strong in body. 

Being sadly in need of rest, the old doctor lingered on 
in the mountains until spring was well adv^anced. Slight 
of body, but vigorous and wiry, and as full of scientific 
enthusiasm as when he was thirty years younger, he 
tramped the hills, taking long walks and climbs alone, or 
shorter ones w4th Hoyle at his heels like a devoted dog, 
shrilling questions as he ran to keep up. These the good 
doctor answered according to his own code, or passed 
over as beyond possibility of reply with quizzical counter- 
questioning. 

They sat together one day, eating their luncheon in the 
shelter of a great wall of rock, and below them lay a pool 
of clear water which trickled from a spring higher up. 
Now and then a bullfrog would sound his deep bass note, 
and all the time the high piping of the peepers made 
shrill accompaniment to their voices as they conversed. 

The doctor had made an aquarium for Hoj^e, using a 
great glass jar which he obtained from a druggist in Faring- 
ton. They had come to-day on a quest for snails to eat 
the green growth, which had so covered the sides of the 
jar as to hide the interesting water world within from the 
boy's eyes. Many things had already occurred in that 
small world to set the boy thinking. 

"Doctah Hoyle, you remembeh that thar quare bunch 
of leetle sticks an' stones you put in my 'quar'um first day 
you fixed hit up fer me ? " 

"Yes, yes." 

"Well, the' is a right quare thing with a big hade come 



250 The Mountain Girl 

outen hit, an' he done eat up some o' the lectle black bugs. 
I seed him jump quicker'n Hghtnin' at that leetHst fish 
only so long, an' try to bite a piece outen his fin — his 
lowest fin. What did he do that fer.^^" 

"Why — why — he was hungry. He made his dinner 
off the little black bugs, and he wanted the fin for his 
dessert." 

"I don't like that kind of a beast. Oncet he was a 
worm in a kind of a hole-box, an' then he turned into a 
leetle beast-crittah ; an' what'll he be next ? " 

"Next — why, next he'll be a fly — a — a beautiful fly 
with four wings all blue and gold and green — " 

*'I seen them things flyin' round in the summeh. Hit's 
quare how things gits therselves changed that-a-way into 
somethin' else — from a w^orm into that beast-crittah 
an' then into one o' these here devil flies. You reckon 
hit '11 eveh git changed into something diff 'ent — some 
kind er a bird ? " 

"A bird .f^ No, no. Wlien he becomes af — fly, he's 
finished and done for." 

"P'r'aps ther is some folks that-a-way, too. You 
reckon that's what ails me ?" 

"You ? Why, — why what ails you ? " 

"You reckon p'r'aps I mount git changed some way 
outen this here quare back I got, so't I can hoi' my hade 
like otheh folks ? Jes' go to sleep like, an' wake up straight 
likeFrale.?" 

The old doctor turned and looked down a moment on 
the child sitting hunched at his side. His mouth w^orked 
as he meditated a reply. 

"What would you do if you could c — arry your head 
straight like Frale ? If you had been like him, you would 
be running a * still' pretty soon. You never would have 
come to me to set you straight, and so you would n — never 
have seen all the pictures and the great cities. You are 
going to be a man before you know it, and — " 

"And I'll do a heap o' things when I'm a man, too — 
but I wisht — I wisht — These here snails we b'en 
hunt'n', you reckon they're done growed to ther shells so 
they can't get out ? What did God make 'em that-a-way 
fer?" 

It's all in the order of things. Everything has its 



a ' 



Back to the Mountains ^51 

place in the world and its work to do. They don't want 
to get out. They like to carry their bones on the out- 
side of their bodies. They're made so. Yes, yes, all 
in the order of things. They like it." 

"You reckon you can tell me hu' come God 'lowed me 
to have this-er lump on my back ? Hit hain't in no ordeh 
o' things fer humans to be like I be." 

The sceptical old man looked down on the child quiz- 
zically, yet sadly. His flexible mouth twitched to reply, 
but he was silent. Hoyle looked back into the old doctor's 
eyes with grave, direct gaze, and turned away. "You 
reckon why he done hit ? " 

"See here. Suppose — just suppose you were given 
your choice this minute to change places with Frale — 
Lord knows where he is now, or what he's doing — or be 
as you are and live your own life ; which would you be ? 
Think it over ; think it out." 

"Ef I had 'a' been straight, brother David never would 
'a' took me up to you ?" 

" No — no — no. You would have been a — " 

"You mean if a magic man should come by here an' just 
touch me so, an' change me into Frale, would I 'low him 
to do hit?" 

"That's what I mean." 

"I don't guess Frale, he'd like to be done that-a-way." 
The loving little chap nestled closer to the doctor's side. 
"I like you a heap, Doctah Hoyle. Frale, he fit brothah 
David — an' nigh about killed him. I reckon I rutheh 
be like I be, an' bide nigh Cass an' th' baby — an' have the 
'quar'um — an' see maw — an' go with you. You reckon 
I can go back with you ? " 

"Go back ? Of course — go back." 

"Be I heap o' trouble to you ? You reckon God 'lowed 
me to have this er hump, so't I could get to go an' bide 
whar you were at, like I done ? " 

A suspicious moisture gathered in the doctor's eyes, 
and he sprang up and went to examine earnestly a thorny 
shrub some paces away, while the child continued to pipe 
his questions, for the most part unanswerable. "You 
reckon God just gin my neck er twist so't brothah David 
would take me to Canada to you, an' so't maw'd 'low 
me to go ? You reckon if I'm right good, He'll 'low me 



252 The Mountain Girl 

to make a picture o' th' ocean some day, like the one we 
seed in that big house ? You reckon if I tried right hard 
I could paint a picture o' th' mountain, yandah — an' 
th* sea — an' — all the — all the — ships ? " 

The doctor laughed heartily and merrily. "Come, 
come. We must go home now to Cassandra and the baby. 
Paint ? Of — of course you could paint ! You could paint 
p — pictures enough to fill a house." 

"We don't want no magic man, do we, Doctah Hoyle? 
I cried a heap after I seed myself in the big lookin'- 
glass down in Farington whar brothah David took me. 
I cried when hit war dark an' maw war sleepin'. Next 
time I reckon I bettah tell God much obleeged fer twistin' 
my hade 'roun' 'stead er cry in' an' takin' on like I been 
doin'. You reckon so, Doctah Hoyle?" 

"Yes — yes — yes. I reckon so," said the doctor, medi- 
tatively, as they descended the trail. From that day the 
child's strength increased. Sunny and buoyant, he shook 
off the thought of his deformity, and his beauty-loving 
soul ceased introspective brooding and found delight in 
searching out beauty, and in his creative faculty. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

IN WHICH FRALE RETURNS TO THE MOUNTAINS 

Doctor Hoyle lingered until the last of the laurel bloom 
was gone, and the widow had become so absorbed in her 
grandchild as to make the parting much easier. Then 
he took the small Adam and departed for the North. 
Never did the kind old man dream that his frail and twisted 
little namesake would one day be the pride of his life and 
the comfort of his declining years. 

'* Hoyle sure do look a heap bettah'n when Doctah 
David took him off that day. Hit did seem like I'd nevah 
see him again. Don't you guess 'at he's beginnin' to grow 
some ? Seems like he do." 

The widow was seated on her little porch with the 
doctor, the evening before they left, and Cassandra, who, 
since the birth of the heir, had been living again in her own 
little cabin, had brought the baby down. He lay on his 
grandmother's lap quietly sleeping, while his mother 
gathered Hoyle's treasures, and packed his diminutive 
trunk. The boy foUow^ed her, chattering happily as she 
worked. She also had noticed the change in him, and 
suggested that perhaps, as he had gained such a start 
toward health, he need not return, but would do quite well 
at home. 

"He's a care to you. Doctor, although you're that kind 
and patient, — I don't see how ever we can thank you 
enough for all you've done !" Then Hoyle, to their utter 
astonishment, threw himself on the ground at the doctor's 
feet and burst into bitter weeping. 

"Why, son, are ye cryin' that-a-way so's you can get 
to go off an' leave maw here 'lone ? " But he continued to 
weep, and at last explained to them that the "Lord done 
crooked him up that-a-way so't he could git to go an' learn 
to be a painter an' make a house full of pictures," and that 

253 



254 The Mountain Girl 

the doctor had said he might. Doctor Hoyle lifted him 
to his knees with many assurances that he would keep his 
word, but for a long time the child sobbed hysterically, 
his face pressed against the old man's sleeve. 

"What's that you sayin', child, 'bouts the Lord twistin' 
yer neck ? Bettah lay sech as that to the devil, more'n 
likely." 

x\t the mention of that sinister individual, the babe 
wakened and stretched out his plump, bare arms, with little 
pink fists tightly closed. He yawned a prodigious yawn 
for so small a countenance, and gazed vacantly in his 
grandmother's face. Then a look of intelligence crept 
into his eyes, and he smiled one of those sweet, evanescent 
smiles of infancy. 

"Look at him now, laughin' at me that-a-way. He 
be the peartest I eveh did see. Cass, she sure be mean 
not to tell his fathah 'at he have a son, she sure be." 

Cassandra came and tenderly took the babe in her arms 
and held him to her breast. "There, there. Sleep, 
honey son, sleep again," she cooed, swaying her body to 
the rhythm of her speech. "Sleep, honey son, sleep again." 

"Don't you reckon she be mean to Doctah David, 
nevah to let on 'at he have a son, and he a-growin' that 
fast ? You a-doin' his fathah mean, Cassandry." Still 
Cassandra swayed and sang. 

"Sleep, honey son, sleep again." 

"He nevah will forgive you when he finds out how you 
have done him. I can't make out what-all ails ye, no- 
how." 

"Hush, mother. I'm just leaving his heart in peace. 
He'll come when he can, and then he'll forgive me." . 

As the doctor walked slowly at her side that evening, 
carrying the sleeping child back to her cabin, he also ven- 
tured a remonstrance, but without avail. 

"It's hardly fair to his father — such a fine little chap. 
You — you have a monopoly of him this way, you know." 

She flushed at the implication of selfishness, but said 
nothing. 

"How — how is that? Don't you think so?" he per- 
sisted kindly. 

"I reckon you can't feel what I feel, Doctor. Why 
should I make his heart troubled when he must stay there ? 



Frale again Returns 255 

David knows I hate it to bide so long without him. He — ■ 
he knows. If he could get to come back, don't you guess 
he'd come right quick, anyway ? Would he come any 
sooner for his son than for me.'^" It was the doctor's 
turn for silence. She asked again, this time with a tremor 
in her voice. "You reckon he would, Doctor?" 

"No ! Of — of course not," he cried. 

"Then what would be the use of telling him, only to 
trouble him .^" 

"He — he might like to think about him — you know 

— might like it." 

"He said he must go to Africa in May, so now he must 
have started — and our wedding was on May-day. Now 
it's the last of May ; he must be there. He might be 
obliged to bide in that country a whole month — maybe 
two. It's so far away, and his letters take so long to come ! 
Doctor, are they fighting there now ? Sometimes I wake 
in the night and think what if he should die away off there 
in that far place — " 

"No, no. That's done. Not fighting, thank God. 
Rest your heart in peace. Now, after I'm gone, don't stay 
up here alone too much. I'm a physician, and I know 
what's best for you." 

She took the now soundly sleeping child from the 
doctor's arms and laid him on the bed in the canvas room. 
The day had been warm, and the fire was out in the great 
fireplace; the evening wind, light and cool, laden with 
sweet odors, swept through the cabin. 

They talked late that night of Hoyle and his future, but 
never a word more of David, The old man thought he 
now understood her feeling, and respected it. She cer- 
tainly had a right to one small weakness, this strong fair 
creature of the hills. Her husband must release himself 
from his absorbing cares and return simply for love of her 

— not at the call of his baby's wail. 

So the doctor and his diminutive namesake drove con- 
tentedly away next morning in the great covered wagon, 
and Cassandra, standing by her mother's door, smiled and 
lifted her baby for one last embrace from his loving little 
uncle. 

"I'm goin' to grow a big man, an' I'll teach him to make 
pictures — big ones," he called back. 



^56 The Mountain Girl 

"Yas, you'll do a heap. You bettah watch out to be 
right good and peart ; that's what you bettah do." 

David, not unmindful of affairs on the far-away moun- 
tain side, made it quite worth the while of the two cousins 
to stay on with the widow and run the small farm under 
Cassandra's directions, and she found herself fully occu- 
pied. She wrote David all the details : when and where 
things were planted — how the vines he had set on the 
hill slope were growing — how the pink rose he had brought 
from Hoke Belew's and planted by their threshold had 
grown to the top of the door, and had three sweet blossoms. 
She had shaken the petals of one between the pages of her 
letter on May-day, and sent it to remind him, she said. 

Nearly a month later than he had intended to sail, 
David left England, overwhelmed with many small matters 
which seemed so great to his mother and sister, and bur- 
dened with duties imposed upon him by the realization 
that he had come into the possession of enormous wealth, 
more than he could comprehendingly estimate; and that 
he was now setting out to secure and prevent the loss of 
possibly double what he already possessed. 

People gathered about him and presented him with 
worthy and unworthy opportunities for its disposal. 
They flocked to him in herds, with importunities and 
flatteries. The tower which he had built up with his 
ideals, and in which he had intrenched himself, was in 
danger of being undermined and toppled into ruins, bury- 
ing his soul beneath the debris. When seated on the deck, 
the rose petals dropped into his hand as he tore open 
Cassandra's letter. Some, ere he could catch them, were 
caught up and blown away into the sea. 

He held them and inhaled their sweetness, and every- 
thing seemed to find its true value and proportion and to 
fall into its right place. Again on the mountain top, with 
Cassandra at his side, he viewed in a perspective of varying 
gradations his life, his aims, and his possessions. 

The personality of his young wife, of late a vague thing 
to him, distant and fair, and haloed about with sweet 
memories dimly discerned like a dream that is past, pre- 
sented itself to him all at once vivid and clear, as if he held 
her in his arms with her head on his breast. 



Frale again Returns 257 

He heard again her voice with its quaint inflections and 
lingering tones. Their love for each other loomed large, 
and became for him at once the one truly vital thing in all 
his share of the universe. Had his body been endowed 
with the wings of his soul, he would have left all and gone 
to her ; but, alas for the restrictions of matter ! he was 
gliding rapidly away and away, farther from the immediate 
attainment. Yet was his tower strengthened wherein he 
had intrenched himself with his ideals. The withered rose 
petals had brought him exaltation of purpose. 

In the mountains, July came with unusually sultry heat, 
yet the rich pocket of soil, watered by its never failing 
stream, suffered little from the drought. AVeeds grew 
apace, and Cassandra had much ado to hold her cousin 
Cotton Caswell, easy-going and thriftless, to his task of 
keeping the small farm in order. 

For a long time now, Cassandra had avoided those 
moments of far-seeing and brooding. Had not David said 
he feared them for her ? In these days of waiting, she 
dreaded lest they show her something to which she would 
rather remain blind. In the evenings, looking over the 
hilltops from her rock, visions came to her out of the 
changing mists, but she put them from her and calmed her 
breast with the babe on her bosom, and solaced her long- 
ing by keeping all in readiness for David's return. Per- 
haps at any moment, with wind-lifted hair and buoyant 
smile, he might come up the laurel path. 

For this reason she preferred living in her own cabin 
home, and, that she might not be alone at night, Martha 
Caswell or her brother slept on a cot in the large cabin 
room, but Cassandra cared little for their company. 
They might come or not as they chose. She was never 
afraid now that she was strong again and baby was well. 

One evening sitting thus, her babe lying asleep on her 
knees and her heart over the sea, something caused her 
to start from her revery and look away from the blue dis- 
tance, toward the cabin. There, a few paces away, 
regarding her intently, stalwart and dark, handsome and 
eager, stood Frale. Much older he seemed, more reckless 
he appeared, yet still a youth in his undisciplined impulse. 
She sat pale as death, unable to move, in breathless amaze- 
ment. 



258 The Mountain Girl 

He smiled upon her out of the gathering dusk. For 
some minutes he had been regarding her, and the tumult 
within him had become riotous with long restraint. He 
came swiftly forward and, ere she could turn her head, 
his arms were about her, and his lips upon hers, and she felt 
herself pinioned in her chair — nor, for guarding her baby 
unhurt by his vehemence, could she use her hands to hold 
him from her ; nor for the suffocating beating of her heart 
could she cry out ; neither would her cry have availed, for 
there were none near to hear her. 

"Stop, Frale ! I am not yours; stop, Frale," she 
implored. 

'*Yas, you are mine," he said, in his low drawl, lifting 
his head to gaze in her face. "You gin me your promise. 
That doctah man, he done gone an' lef you all alone, and 
he ain't nevah goin' to come back to these here mountins." 

She snatched her hands from the child on her knees, and, 
with sudden movement, pushed him violently ; but he only 
held her closer, and it was as if she struggled against mus- 
cles of iron. 

"Naw, you don't ! I have you now, an' I won't nevah 
leave you go again." He had not been drinking, yet he 
was like one drunken, so long had he brooded and waited. 

Rapidly she tried to think how she might gain control 
over him, when, wakened by the struggle, the babe wailed 
out and he started to his feet, his hands clutching into his 
hair as if he were struck with sudden fear. He had not 
noticed or given heed to what lay upon her knees, and the 
cry penetrated his heart like a knife. 

A child ! His child — that doctor's child ? He hated 
the thought of it, and the old impulse to strike down any- 
thing or any creature that stood in his way seized him — 
the impulse that, unchecked, had made him a murderer. 
He could kill, kill ! Cassandra gathered the little body 
to her heart and, standing still before him, looked into his 
eyes. Instinctively she knew that only calmness and 
faith in his right action would give her the mastery now, 
and with a prayer in her heart she spoke quietly. 

"How came you here, Frale ? You wrote mother you'd 
gone to Texas." His figure relaxed, and his arms dropped, 
but still he bent forward and gazed eagerly into her 
eyes. 



Frale again Returns 259 

"I come back when I heered he war gone. I come back 
right soon. Gate Irwin's wife writ me 'at he war gone ; 
an' now she done tol' me he ain't nevah goin' to come back 
to these here mountins. Ev'ybody on the mountins 
knows that. He jes' have fooled you-all that-a-way, 
makin' out to marry you whilst he w^ar in bed, like he 
couldn' stand on his feet, an' then gittin' up an' goin' off 
this-a-way, an' bidin' nigh on to a year. We don't 'low 
our women to be done that-a-way, like they war pore 
white trash. I come back fer you like I promised, an' 
you done gin me your promise, too. I reckon you w^on't 
go back on that now." He stepped nearer, and she clasped 
the babe closer, but did not flinch. 

"Yes, Frale, you promised, and I — I — promised — 
to save you from yourself — to be a good man ; but you 
broke yours. You didn't repent, and you went on drink- 
ing, and — then you tried to kill an innocent man when 
he was alone and unarmed; like a coward you shot him. 
I called back my words from God; I gave them to the 
man I loved — promise for promise, Frale." 

"Yas, and curse for curse. You cursed me, Gass." 
He made one more step forward, but she stood her ground 
and lifted one hand above her head, the gesture he so well 
remembered. 

"Keep back, Frale. I did not curse you. I let you go 
free, and no one followed you. Go l^ack — farther — 
farther — or I will do it now — Oh, God — " He 
cowered, his arm before his eyes, and moved backward. 

"Don't, Gass," he cried. For a moment she stood 
regally before him, her babe resting easily in the hollow 
of her arm. Then she slowly lowered her hand and spoke 
again, in quiet, distinct tones. 

"Now, for that lie they have told you, I am going to 
my husband. I start to-morrow. He has sent me money 
to come to him. You tell that word all up and down the 
mountain side, wherever there bides one to hear." 

She lifted her baby, pressing his little face to her cheek, 
and turning, walked slowly toward her cabin door. 

"Gass," he called. 

She paused. " Well, Frale ? " 
Gass, you hev cursed me." 
'No, Frale, it is the curse of Cain that rests on your 






260 The Mountain Girl 

soul. You brought it on you by your own hand. If 
you will live right and repent, Christ will take it off." 

"Will you ask him for me, Cass ? I sure hev lost you 
now — forever, Cass ! " 

"Yes, Frale. I'll ask him to cover up all this year out 
of your life. It has been full of mad badness. Be like 
you used to be, Frale, and leave off thinking on me this 
way. It is sin. Go marry somebody who can love you 
and care for you like you need, and come back here and 
do for mother like you used to. Giles Teasley can't 
pester you. He's half dead with his badness — drinking 
his own liquor." 

She came to him, and, taking his hand, led him toward 
the laurel path. "Go down to mother now, Frale, and 
have supper and sleep in your own bed, like no evil had 
ever come into your heart," she pleaded. "The good is 
in you, Frale. God sees it, and I see it. Heed to me, 
Frale. Good-night." 

Slowly, with bent head, he walked away. 

Trembling, Cassandra laid her baby in the cradle Hoke 
Belew had made her, and, kneeling beside the rude little 
bed, she bowed her head over it and wept scalding, bitter 
tears. She felt herself shamed before the whole mountain 
side. Oh, why — why need David have left her so long 
— so long ! The first reproach against him entered her 
heart, and at the same time she reasoned with herself. 

He could not help it — surely he could not. He was 
good and true, and they should all know it if she had to 
lie for it. When she had sobbed herself into a measure 
of calmness, she heard a step cross the cabin floor. Quickly 
drying her tears, she rose and stood in the doorway of 
the canvas room, with dilated eyes and indrawn breath, 
peering into the dusk, barring the way. It was only her 
mother. 

Why, mothah !" she cried, relieved and overjoyed. 
Have you seen Frale ?" 

Yes, mothah. He was here. Sit down and get your 
breath. You have climbed too fast." 

Her mother dropped into a chair and placed a small 
bundle on the table at her side. 

"What-all is this Frale say you have told him.? Have 
David writ fer you like Frale say ? W^hat-all have Frale 



if 



Frale again Returns 261 

been up to now ? He come down creepin' like he a half- 
dade man — that soft an' quiet." 

"I'm going to David, mother. You know he sent me 
money to use any w^ay I choose, and I'm going." She 
caught her breath and faltered. 

The mother rose and took her in her arms, and, drawing 
her head down to her wrinkled cheek, patted her softly. 

"Thar, honey, thar. I reckon your ol' maw knows a 
heap more'n you think. You keep mighty still, but you 
can't fool her." 

Cassandra drew herself together. "Why didn't Martha 
come up this evening ^ " 

"She war makin' ready, in her triflin' slow way, an' 
then Frale come down an' said that word, an' I knew right 
quick 'at ther war somethin' behind — his way war that 
quare — so I told Marthy to set him out a good suppah, 
an' I'd stop up here myself this night. She war right glad 
to do hit. Fool, she be ! I could see how she went plumb 
silly ovah Frale all to onc't." 

"Mothah, you know right well what they're saying about 
David and me. Is it true, that word Frale said, that 
everyone says he nevah will come back.^^" The mother 
was silent. "That's all right, mothah. We'll pack up 
to-night, and I'll go down to Farington to-morrow. Mrs. 
Towahs will help me to start right." 

She lighted candles and began to lay out her baby's 
wardrobe. "I haven't anything to put these in, but I can 
carry everything I need down there in baskets, and she 
will help me. They've always been that good to me — 
all my life." 

"Cass, Cass, don't go," wailed her mother. "I'm 
afraid somethin'll happen you if you go that far away. If 
you could leave baby with me, Cass ! Give hit up. Be ye 
'feared o' Frale, honey ? " 

"No, mother, the man doesn't live that I'm afraid of." 
She paused, holding the candle in her hand, lighting her 
face that shone whitely out of the darkness. Her eyes 
glowed, and she held her head high. Then she turned 
again to her work, gathering her few small treasures and 
placing them on one of the highest shelves of the chimney 
cupboard. As she worked, she tried to say comforting 
things to her mother. 



262 The Mountain Girl 



a ■ 






I'll write to you every day, like David does me, mother. 
See ? I've kept all his letters. They're in this box. 
I don't want to burn them because I love them ; and 
I don't want any one else to read them ; and I don't want 
to carry them with me because I'll have him there. Will 
you lock them in your box, mother, and if, anything hap- 
pens to me, will you sure — sure burn them ? " She laid 
them on the table at her mother's elbow. "You promise, 
mothah ?" 

'Yas, Cass, yas." 
What's in that bundle, mothah .f^'* 

With trembling fingers the widow opened her parcel 
and displayed the silver teapot, from which the spout had 
been melted to be moulded into silver bullets. 

"Thar," she said, holding it out by the handle, "hit's 
yourn. Farwell, he done that one day whilst I war gone, 
an' the last bullet war the one Frale used when he nigh 
killed your man. No, I reckon you nevah did see hit 
before, fer I've kept hit hid good. I knowed ther were 
somethin' to come outen hit some day. Hit do show your 
fathah come from some fine high fambly somewhar. I 
done showed hit to Doctah David, fer I 'lowed he mount 
know was hit wuth anything, but he seemed to set more 
by them two leetle books. He has them books yet, I 
reckon." 

"Yes, he has them."^ 

"When Frale told me you war a-goin' to David, I 
guessed 'at thar war somethin' 'at I'd ought to know, an' 
I clum up here right quick, fer if he war a-lyin', I meant 
to find out the reason why." She looked keenly in her 
daughter's face, which remained passive under the scrutiny. 
Has Frale been a-pesterin' you ? " 
He did — some — at first ; but I sent him away." 

"I reckoned so. Now heark. You tell me straight, 
did David send fer ye, er didn't he .f*" 

In silence Cassandra turned to her work, until it seemed 
as if the room were filled with the suspense of the unan- 
swered question. Then she tried evasion. 

"Why do you ask in that way, mothah ?" 

"Because if he sont fer ye, I'll help ye all I can; but 
if he didn't, I'll hinder ye, and ye'll bide right whar 
ye be." 






Frale again Returns 263 

"You won't do that, mothah." 

"I sure will. If David haven't sont fer ye, an' ye go, 
ye'll have to walk ovah me to get thar, hear ?" 

The mother's voice was raised to a higher pitch than was 
her wont, and the little silver pot shook in her hand. 
Cassandra took it and regarded it without interest, ab- 
sorbed in other thoughts. Then, throwing off her abstrac- 
tion, she began questioning her mother about it, and why 
she had brought it to her now. The widow told all she 
knew, as she had told David, and pointed out the half 
obliterated coat of arms on the side. 

"I've heered your paw say 'at ther war more pleces'n 
this, oncet, but this'n come straight to him from his grand- 
paw, an' now hit's yourn. If he have sont fer ye, take 
hit with ye. Hit may be wuth more'n you think fer now. 
I been told they do think a heap o' fambly ovah thar, jest 
like we do here in the mountins. Leastways, hit's all we 
do have — some of us. My fambly war all good stock, 
capable and peart ; an' now heark to me. Wharevah you 
go, just you hold your hade up. The' hain't nothin' 
more despisable than a body 'at goes meachin' around 
like some old sheep-stealin' houn' dog. Now if he sure 
'nough have sont fer ye, go, an' I'll help ye, but if he 
haven't, bide whar ye be." 

Cassandra drew in her breath sharply, no longer able to 
evade the question, with her mother's keen eyes searching 
her face. All her reasons for going flashed through her 
mind in a moment's space of time. The book she had been 
reading — what were English people really like "^ And 
David — her David — her boy's father — what shameful 
things were they saying of him all over the mountain that 
Frale should dare come to her as he had done ^ She 
could not stay now ; she would not. Her cheeks flamed, 
and she walked silently into the canvas room and stood 
by her baby's cradle. Her mother began wrapping up 
the silver pot. 

"I guess I'll take this back an' lock hit up again. You 
sure hain't to go if ye can't give me that word." 

Cassandra went quickly and took it from her mother's 
hand. "No, mother, give it to me. I told Frale David 
had sent for me, and I'm going." 
'And he have sont fer ye?'* 



(( 



£64 The Mountain Girl 

"Yes, mothah." Her reply was low as she turned again 
to her work. 

"Waal, now, why couldn't you have give me that word 
first off ? Hit's his right to have ye, an' I'll he'p ye. 
You'd ought to go to him if he can't come to you." 

Instantly up and alert, putting bravely aside her own 
feelings at the thought of parting, the mother began 
helping her daughter; but long after they were finished 
and settled for the night, she lay wakeful and dreading the 
coming day. 

Cassandra slept less, and lay quietly thinking, sorrowful 
that she must leave her home, and not a little anxious 
over what might be her future and what might be her fate 
in that strange land. 

When at last she slept, she dreamed of the people she 
had met in Vanity Fairy with David strangely mixed up 
among them, and Frale ever alert and watchful, moving 
wherever she moved, silently lingering near and never 
taking his eyes from her face. 

In the morning, mother and daughter were up betimes, 
but no word was spoken between them to betoken hesita- 
tion or fear. Cassandra walked in a sort of dumb wonder 
at herself, and smouldering deep beneath the surface was 
a fierce resentment against those who, having known her 
from childhood, and receiving many favors and kindnesses 
from her, should now presume to so speak against her 
husband as to make Frale dare to approach her as he had. 
Oh, the burning shame of those kisses ! The shame of 
the thought against David that pervaded her beloved 
mountains ! For the sake of his good name, she would 
put away her pride and go to him. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

IN WHICH CASSANDRA VISITS DAVID THRYNG*S ANCESTORS 

It was a pleasant morning in London, with as clear a 
sky as is ever permitted to that great city. Cassandra 
had placed her little son in the middle of a huge bed which 
nearly filled the small room she had been given in a hotel, 
recommended to her by Betty Towers as one where '*nice 
ladies travelling alone" could stop. 

The child was dressed in a fresh white coat, and Cas- 
sandra had much ado to keep him clean. She heaped 
him about with pillows and bedclothing to make a nest 
for him, and gave him a spoon and a drinking cup for 
entertainment, while she arranged her own toilet before 
a cloudy mirror by a slant ray of daylight that managed 
to sift through the heavy draperies and lace curtains that 
obscured the one high, narrow window of her room. 

She had tried to put them one side that she might look 
out when she awoke, but she could see only chimney-pots 
and grimy, irregularly tiled roofs. A narrow opening at 
the top of the window let in a little air ; still she felt 
smothered, and tried to raise the lower sash, but could not 
move it. She thought of the books she had read about 
great cities, and how some people had to live in places 
like this always ; and her heart filled with a large pity 
for them. Here only a small triangle of blue sky could 
be seen — not a tree, not a bit of earth — and in the small 
room all those heavy furnishings closed around her, dark 
red, stuffy, and greasy with London smoke. She could 
not touch them without blackening her hands, nor let her 
baby sit on the floor for the dirt he wiped up on his cloth- 
ing as he rolled and kicked about. 

The room seemed to sway and tip as the ship had done, 
and there was a continuous sound as of thunder, a strange 
undercurrent that seemed to her strained nerves like the 

265 



266 The Mountain Girl 

moaning of the lost souls of all the ages, who had lived and 
toiled and smothered in this monstrous and terrible city. 

Ah, she must get out of it. She must hurry — hurry 
and find David. He would be glad to see his little son. 
He would take him in his arms. He would hold them 
both to his heart. She would see him smile again and look 
in his eyes, and all this foreboding would cease, and the 
woful sounds die out of the air and become only the 
natural roar of the activities and traflfic of a great city. 
She must get used to all this, and not expect to find all the 
world like her own sunny mountains. 

The bishop's careful little wife had tried to explain to 
her how to meet her new experiences. She was to go 
nowhere alone, without taking a cab, and never start out 
on foot, carrying her baby in her arms, as she might do at 
home. She had given her written instructions how to 
conduct herself under all ordinary circumstances, at her 
hotel or on the street — how to ring for a servant, order 
her meals, or call a cab. 

Now, standing before her mirror, Cassandra essayed to 
arrange her hair as she had seen other young women 
wear theirs, but she thought the new way looked untidy, 
and she took it all down and rearranged it as she was used 
to wear it. David would not mind if she did not do her hair 
as others did, he would be so glad to see her and his little 
son. Ah, the comfort of that little son ! She leaned over 
the bed, half dressed as she was, and murmured pretty coo- 
ing phrases, kissing and cuddling him to contented laughter. 

Betty Towers had procured clothing for her — a modest 
supply — using her own good taste, and not disguising Cas- 
sandra's natural grace and dignity by a too-close adherence 
to the prevailing mode. There w^ere a blue travelling gown 
and jacket, and a toque of the same color with a white 
wing; a soft clinging black silk, made with girlish sim- 
plicity which admirably became her, and a wide, flexible 
brimmed hat with a single heavy plume taken from 
Betty's own hat of the last winter. Cassandra stood a 
long moment before the two gowns. She desired to don 
the silk, but Betty had told her always to wear the blue in 
the morning, so at last she obeyed her kind adviser. 

While waiting with her baby in her arms for the hotel 
boy to call her cab, she observed another lady, young and 



David's Ancestors 267 

graceful, enter a cab, and a maid following her wearing a 
pretty cap> and carrying a child. Eager, for David's sake, 
to draw no adverse comment upon herself, she took note 
of everything. Ought she then to arrive attended by a 
maid, carrying her baby ? But David would know she 
did not need one ; bringing him his little son in her own 
arms, what would he care for anything more ? So the 
address was given the cabman, and they were rattled aw^ay 
over the rough paving, a long, lonely ride through the 
wonderful city — so many miles of houses and splendid 
buildings, of gardens and monuments. 

Strangely, the people of Vanity Fair leaped out of the 
book she had read, and walked the streets or dashed by 
her in cabs — albeit in modern dress. The soldiers — the 
guardsmen — the liveried lackeys — the errand boys — 
all were there, and the ladies in fine carriages. There were 
the nursemaids — the babies — the beggars — the ragged 
urchins and the venders of the street, with their raucous 
cries rending the air. Her brain whirled, and a new feel- 
ing to which she had hitherto been blessedly a stranger 
crept over her, a feeling of fear. 

As the great two-story coaches and trams thundered 
by, she clasped her baby closer, until he looked up in her 
face with round-eyed wonder and put up his lip in pitiful 
protest. She soothed and comforted him until her panic 
passed, and when, at last, they stopped before a great 
house built in on either side by other houses, with wide 
steps of stone descending directly upon the street, she had 
regained a measure of composure. She was assured by the 
cabman, leaning respectfully down to her with his cap in 
his hand, that this was "the 'ouse, ma'm," and should he 
wait ? 

"Oh, yes. Wait," cried Cassandra. What if David 
were not there ! And of course, he might be out. Then 
they were swallowed up in the dark interior. She was 
admitted to a hall that seemed to her empty and vast, by 
a little old man in livery. For a moment, bewildered, she 
could hardly understand what he was saying to her. " 'Er 
ladyship's at 'er country 'ome and the 'ouse closed." 

Although dazed and baffled, Cassandra betrayed no 
sign of the tumult within, and the little old man stood 
before her hesitating, his curiosity piqued into a determi- 



268 The Mountain Girl 

nation to discover her business and identity. Her gravity 
and silence gave her a poise and dignity that allayed sus- 
picion, but he and his old wife liked diversion, and a spice 
of gossip lightened the monotony of their lives, so he 
waited, then coughed behind his hand. 

"Yes, 'er ladyship and Lady Laura are at their country 
'ome now, ma'm. Maybe you came to see the 'ouse, 
ma'm.?" 

"No, it was not the house — it was — " Again she 
waited, not knowing how to introduce her husband's 
name. 

A mystery ! A visitor at this hour, and seemingly a 
lady, yet with a baby in her arms, and alone, and not to 
see the house. Again he coughed behind his hand. 

*' A many do come to see the 'ouse, ma'm, with a permit 
from 'is lordship, ma'm. 'E's not 'ere now, but strangers 
are halways welcome — to the gallery, ma'm." 

"Yes, I'm a stranger.' She caught at the word. 
Seized by an inward terror of the small eyes fixed curiously 
on her, she intuitively shrank from betraying her identity, 
and the old servant had told her what she needed to know. 
Of course her husband was "his lordship," over here. 
"I am from America, and I would like to see the gallery." 
She must do so to give a pretext for having come to visit 
an empty house. David must not be compromised be- 
fore the old servant, but a great lump filled her throat, 
and tears were burning unshed beneath her eyes. 

For all of the warm August sun shining without, a chill 
struck to her bones as they passed through the vast, 
closed rooms. She held her now sleeping baby close to 
her breast as she followed the old man about from picture 
to picture. 

"Yes, a many do come 'ere — especially hartists — to 
see this gallery. They say as 'ow 'is lordship wouldn't 
take a thousand pounds for this one, ma'm. We'll let in 
a little more light. A Vandyke — and worth it's weight 
in gold." 

Cassandra watched him cross the floor, his short bow 
legs reflected grotesquely in its shining surface as he 
walked, then turned and gazed again at the life-size, half- 
length portrait of a young man with sunny hair like David's 
and warm brown eyes. 



David's Ancestors 269 

"There, you see, it's more than a Vandyke to the family, 
ma'm, for it's a hancestor, and my wife says it's as like as 
two peas to 'is young lordship, who has just come into the 
title, ma'm. And that's strange, isn't it, for 'im to look so 
like, being as 'e belonged to the younger branch who 
'aven't 'eld the title for four generations ; but come to 
dress 'im in velvet and gold lace, and the likeness would be 
nigh as perfect as if 'e 'ad stood for it." 

Cassandra gazed so long sil^^ntly at this picture that 
again the little man coughed his deprecatory cough and 
essayed to lead her on ; but she was seeing visions and did 
not heed him. When at last she turned, her-gray eyes had 
deepened, and a clearly defined spot of delicate red burned 
on one pale cheek. She drew a deep breath and looked 
down the length of the long gallery. Everything was 
being impressed upon her mind as upon sensitized paper. 

She followed slowly in the old man's wake, never open- 
ing her lips until they had made the circuit and were again 
standing before the portrait of the fair-haired youth. 
Then, roused suddenly by a direct question, she responded. 

The old servant was saying: "You 'aven't 'appened 
to meet a Samuel Cutter in America, 'ave you "^ 'E's our 
son. England was too slow for 'im. Young men aren't 
like old ones ; they wants hadventure, and they gets it. 
That's 'ow so many of 'em joins the harmy and gets 
killed like 'is lordship's two sons, and young Lord 
Thryng's brother as would 'ave been 'is lordship, if 'e' ad 
lived. You 'aven't 'appened to know a Samuel Cutter 
over there ? 'E went to Canada. " 

*'No, I never met any one by that name. I live a long 
way from Canada." 

''About 'ow far do you think, ma'm.^*" 

Cassandra had no idea of the distance, but she knew 
how long David and Hoyle were journeying there, so she 
answered as best she could. "It takes three or four days 
to get there from my home." 

The old man's eyes opened wide, and his jaw dropped. 
"It's a big country — America is. England may be a 
small place, but she 'as tremendous big possessions." He 
felt it all belonged to England, and spoke with swelling 
pride as his short legs carried him toward the door. There 
again he paused. He had learned nothing of this young 



270 The Mountain Girl 

woman to tell his old wife, except that she came from 
America, and had never met Samuel Cutter. The mystery 
was still unsolved. 

"Yes, 'is young lordship do look amazing like that pic- 
ture. If you'd ever seen 'im, you'd think 'e'd dressed up 
in velvet and lace and stood for it. 'E's lived in America 
five years, but if you never were in Canada and never met 
our Sammy, it's more likely you never saw 'im either." 

"Is he at their country home also?" Cassandra asked. 
She had seated herself in the hall, for her heart throbbed 
chokingly, and the lump was heavy in her throat. It 
was as she had dreamed sometimes, when her feet seemed 
to cling to the earth, and would not lift her weight up some 
steep hill. 

"'Is lordship is still in Hafrica, mam. 'E 'ave been a 
great traveller, but 'e can't stay much longer now, for 
Lady Laura is to 'ave a grand coming out, and 'is lordship 
is to be married. Her ladyship's 'eart is set on it, and on 
'is marrying 'igh, too. That's gossip, you know." 

Cassandra rose and stood suddenly poised for flight. 
She must get out of that house and hear no more. She 
had a silver shilling in her hand, for Betty Towers had told 
her all servants expected a tip, and this was intended for 
the cabman. Had she followed her impulse, she would 
have darted by with her fingers in her ears, but instead, 
she dropped the shilling in the old man's hand, and quietly 
turned toward the door. 

"Thank you," his fingers closed over the shilling. Her 
pallor struck him then, even as the red spot on her cheek 
deepened, and he held out his arms for the child. 

"Let me carry 'im for you, ma'm. Is it a boy.^^" 

But her arms closed tighter about her baby. "He is 
my little son." It was almost a cry, as she said it, but 
again she forced herself to calmness, and, walking slowly 
out, added, with a quiet smile: "I always keep him 
myself. We do in America." 

In a moment she was gone. The warm sunlight burst 
in on them and flooded the cold hall as the old man stood 
in the doorway looking after the retreating cab, and down 
at the silver shilling. 

Darker, dingier, stuffier, seemed the box of a room, as 
she walked into it and laid her still sleeping babe on the 



David's Ancestors 271 

bed. She felt herself moving In an unreal world. David 
— her David — she had not come to him after all ; she 
had come to an empty place. She knelt and threw her 
arms about her little son, encircling his head and his feet. 
She neither wept nor prayed ; and the red spot burned 
against the creamy whiteness of her skin. She was not 
thinking, only looking, seeing into the past and down the 
long vista of her future. 

Pictures came to her — pictures of her girlhood — her 
dim aspirations — her melancholy-eyed father — his 
hilltop — and beloved, sunlit mountains. In the radi- 
ance of the spring, she saw them, and in the glory of the 
autumn ; she breathed the fragrance of the pines in winter 
and heard the soft patter of summer rains on widespread- 
ing leaves. She saw David walking at her side, and 
heard his laugh, sun-bright and glorious he seemed, her 
Phoebus Apollo — the father of her little son. 

She saw the terrible sea which she had crossec^to come 
to him — the white-crested waves, with turquoise lights 
and indigo depths, shifting and sliding unceasingly where 
all the world seemed swallowed in space, and the huge 
steamship so small a thing in the vast and perilous deep; 
and now — now she was here. What was she ? What 
was life ? 

She had tried to find him, her David, and had been 
shown the dead, and the glory of the dead — all past and 
gone — her David's glory. Shown that long,^ empty 
gallery resounding with those aged footsteps, and the pic- 
tures — pictures — pictures — of men and women who 
had once been babes like her little son and David's, now 
dead and gone — not one soul among them all to greet 
her. Proud lords and dames in frames of gold ; young 
men and maidens in costly silks and velvets of marvellous 
dyes, red-cheeked, red-lipped, and soullessly silent; and 
she, alone and undefended in their midst, holding in her 
arms their last descendant. All those painted fingers 
seemed lifted to point at her ; those silent red lips parted 
to cry out at her, "Look at this stranger claiming to be 
one of us ; send her away." 

And David — her David — was one of these ! What 
they had felt — what they had thought and striven for — 
was it all intensified and concentrated in him? Oh, if 



272 The Mountain Girl 

her soul could only reach to him, wherever he was, and 
penetrate this impalpable veil that stretched between 
them ! If her hands could only touch him, her eyes look 
into his and see what lay in their depths for her ! 

Then her babe stirred and tossed up his pretty hands, 
waking her from her sad, vision-seeing trance. He opened 
his large, clear eyes, and suddenly it seemed that her wish 
was granted, — that the veil was rent and she was look- 
ing into David's eyes and seeing his soul free, no longer 
chained by invisible links to those dead and gone beings, 
and their traditions. This had been all a dream — a 
dream. 

She gathered the child in her arms and held him with 
his sweet, warm lips pressed to her breast and his soft little 
hand thrust in her bosom. David's little son — David's 
little son ! Surely all was good and well with the world ! 
Did not the old man say it was only gossip ? Had not 
evil things been said of David even on her own mountain ? 
It was the trail of the serpent of ill report. He had not 
confided his sacred secret to these people, and they had 
thought what they pleased. Surely he had told his 
mother about his wife. She would go to his mother and 
wait for his return, and there she would bring her precious 
gift — David's little son. 

Quickly she packed her few belongings and rang for a 
messenger, and as she stood an instant waiting for an an- 
swer to her ring, the white-capped nurse she had noticed 
in the morning passed by with the baby in her arms. Yes, 
surely women of David's state did not travel about alone. 
Had she not read in Vanity Fair how Becky Sharp always 
had her maid ? And now she was in "Vanity Fair," and 
must be wise and not go to David's mother unattended. 
Then, too, if only she had some one with her to whom she 
could speak now and then, it would be better. There- 
fore, without further consideration, she walked swiftly 
down the corridor after the tidy nurse. 

"Will you tell me, please, have you a sister .f^" she said. 
The young woman stood still in astonishment. "Or — 
any friend like yourself ? I — I am a stranger from 
America." The look of surprise changed to one of curi^ 
osity. "And it is right hard to go about alone with my 
baby, so I thought I would ask you if you have a sister." 



David's Ancestors 273 

"Is it to the country you wish to go, ma'm?" The 
baby in her arms stirred, and the nurse swayed gently back 
and forth to hush it. 

"Yes." 

"I couldn't go with you myself, ma'm — but — " 

"Oh, no ! I didn't mean you. I only thought if you 
had a sister — or a friend, maybe, who could help me for 
a little while." 

" I saw you this morning, ma'm, as you went out. I'll 
see what I can do. What number is your room ? and 
what name ? I mustn't talk here. Mrs. Darling is very 
particular." 

"Oh, never mind, then." Cassandra turned away in 
sudden shame lest she had not done the right thing. The 
nurse watched her return to her room as swiftly as she had 
left it, and took note of the number. 

"How very odd !" said the young woman to herself. 

Cassandra felt more abashed under the round-eyed gaze 
of the maid than if she had encountered the queen. Her 
ring for a messenger had not been answered, and she did 
not know how to find her husband's country-seat. She 
felt faint and weary, but did not think of hunger, nor that 
it was long past the dinner-hour, and that she had eaten 
nothing since her early breakfast. She only thought that 
she must be brave and try — try to think how to reach 
David's people. 

Resolutely she closed her door, and dressed her baby 
carefully ; then she arrayed herself in the soft silk gown, 
and the wide hat with the heavy plume, and then — could 
David have seen her with her courageous eyes and lifted 
head, and the faint color from excitement in her cheeks — 
he would no longer have feared to take her by the hand 
and lead her to his mother and say, "She is my wife, 
and the loveliest lady in the land." 

People looked at her as she passed, and turned to look 
again. Down wade, carpeted stairs she went, until she 
came to a broad landing with recessed windows, where were 
round polished tables and people seated, sipping tea and 
eating thin bread and butter and muffins. Then Cassandra 
knew that she was hungry and sat herself in one of the 
windows apart, before a table. Presently a young man 
came and bent down to her as if listening. She looked up 



274 The Mountain Girl 

at him in bewilderment, but at the same instant, seeing 
another young man similarly dressed bearing a tray of 
muffins and tea to a lady and gentleman near by, she said : — 

*'I would like tea, please." 

"Wot kind, ma'm ?" She did not care what kind, nor 
know for what to ask, only to have something soon, so she 
said : — « 

"I will take what they have." 

"Yes, ma'm. Muffins, ma'm?" 

"Yes," she replied wearily, and turned to gaze out of 
the window. Cabs and carriages were rushing up and 
down the street below them. She placed her little son 
on the seat beside her and held him with sheltering arm, 
while he watched the moving vehicles and looked from 
them to his mother's face. 

"What a perfectly lovely child !" said a pleasant voice. 
"Is it a boy.? How old is he.?" 

Cassandra looked up to see a rosy-cheeked girl, a little 
too stout and florid, with a great mop of dark hair tied 
with a wide black ribbon. A gray-haired lady followed, 
and paused beside her. 

"Yes," said Cassandra, faintly. "He is almost six 
months old." 

The girl reached over and patted his cheek. "How 
perfectly dear. See him, mamma. Isn't he, though ? " 

"Babies are always dear," said the mother, with a 
smile. "Come, Laura, we can't wait, you know," and 
they passed on. As Cassandra looked up in the mother's 
face, something stirred vaguely in her heart. Had she 
seen her before ? Possibly, so many had paused to speak 
to her in this casual way since she left home. 

Then her tea and crisp, hot muffins were brought. 
The young girl's pleasant words had warmed her heart, 
and the refreshment gave her more courage. She made 
her way to the office and inquired how she might find 
Lord Thryng's country home. The clerk wrote the 
address promptly on a card, but the keen look of interest 
with which he handed it to her caused her to shrink in- 
wardly. Why, what was it to him what place she asked 
for ? She lifted her head proudly. She must not falter. 

"I wish to go there. Will you tell me how, please.?" 

But the surprise of the clerk was quite natural, as she 



r 



David's Ancestors 275 

had signed the hotel register the evening before with her 
whole name, giving no thought to it; and now he won- 
dered what relation she might be to the family so lately 
come into the title, since she bore the name, yet seemed to 
know so little about them. He explained to her cour- 
teously — almost deferentially. 

*'Will you go to Daneshead Castle itself, ma'm, or stop 
in Queensderry ?'* As she had no idea what the question 
involved, she replied at hazard. 

'*I will stop in Queensderry." And her bags were 
brought down, and she was despatched to the right sta- 
tion without more delay. 



CHAPTER XXX 

IN WHICH CASSANDRA GOES TO QUEENSDERRY AND TAKES 
A DRIVE IN A PONY CARRIAGE 

Glad to be borne away from the city and out through 
fresh green fields and past pretty church-spired villages, 
alone in the compartment, Cassandra comforted herself 
with her baby, playing with him until he dropped to sleep, 
when she made a bed for him on the car seat with rugs, 
and, taking out her purse, began to count her remaining 
resources. Her bill at the hotel had appalled her. So 
much to pay to stay only a night ! What would David 
say ? But he had told her to use the money as she liked, 
and now she was here, there was nothing else to do. 

Laboriously she computed the amount in English money, 
and, reckoned thus, her dollars and cents seemed to shrink 
and vanish. Still, more than half remained of what she 
had brought with her, and she viewed the matter calmly. 

The shadows fell long over the smooth greensward as 
she arrived in the village of Queensderry and was driven 
to a small inn, the only house of entertainment in the 
place. She was given a pleasant room overlooking fields 
and orchards and bright gardens, and the sight rested her 
eyes, and still further calmed her troubled heart. She 
would rest to-night, and to-morrow all would be well. 

Never had food tasted better to her than the supper 
served in her pretty room, — toast in a silver rack, and 
fresh butter, such as David loved, and curds and whey, 
and gingerbread, and a small jar of marmalade. She ate, 
seated in the window, looking out over the sweet English 
landscape in the warm twilight — the breeze stirring the 
white curtains — her little son in her lap gurgling and 
smiling up at her — and her heart with David, wherever he 
might be. 

Slowly the dusk veiled all, and one star glimmered above 
the slender church spire. A pretty maid brought candles 

276 



Cassandra at Queensderry 277 

and a book in which she was asked to write her name. 
She was the landlady's daughter and looked wholesome 
and bright. Cassandra glanced in her face as she set the 
candles down, and took up the pen mechanically. 

*' Mother says will you sign here, please.'^" 

"Yes." Cassandra turned the leaves slowly and read 
other names and addresses — many of them. She wrote 
"Cassandra Merlin — " and paused; then, making a long 
dash, added simply, "America,'* and, handing back the 
book and pen, turned again to the window. 

"Thank you. Is that all ?'' said the maid, lingering. 

"Yes," said Cassandra again ; then she laid her baby on 
the bed and began taking his night clothing from her bag. 

"How pretty he is ! Shan't I help you unpack, ma'm ? " 

Cassandra paused, looking dreamily before her as if 
scarcely comprehending, then she said : "Not to-night, 
thank you. Perhaps to-morrow." The maid deftly 
piled the supper dishes and, taking them and the book 
with her, departed with a pleasant "Good night, ma'm." 

In spite of her calmness, Cassandra lay wakeful and 
patient, and when at last she did sleep, it seemed to her 
she stood with her husband on her father's path, looking 
out under overarching boughs, upon blue distances of 
heaped-up mountain tops, and David's flute notes, silvery 
sweet, were raining down upon her. She awoke to discover 
day was breaking, and a pealing of bells from some distant 
church tower was announcing the fact. 

She gathered her babe to her throbbing heart and 
thought, to-day she was to go out and meet her husband's 
people. How should she go ? How should she conduct 
herself ? Should she go at once, or wait until the after- 
noon ? Why had she not written her name fully in the 
travellers' book ? What mysterious foreboding had caught 
her fingers and stayed them at her maiden name ? Was 
she afraid ? TNTien she arose, she found herself trembling 
from head to foot, and called for her breakfast, before 
bathing and dressing her little son. 

The same pretty maid brought it, and came again, while 
Cassandra bathed and nursed her baby, to set the room 
to rights. 

" Shan't I unpack your box for you now, ma'm ? '* And, 
without waiting for a reply, she took out Cassandra's 



278 The Mountain Girl 

clothing, pausing now and then to admire and pet the 
lovely boy. Her simple friendliness pleased Cassandra, 
who was minded to ask some of the questions which were 
burdening her. 

"When do people make visits here, in the morning or 
afternoon "^ " 

"That depends, ma'm." 

"How do you mean ? I'm a stranger in England, you 
know." 

"Yes, ma'm. If they make polite visits, they go about 
tea time, ma'm. But if it's parish visits, or on business, 
or on people they know very well, they may go in the 
morning, ma'm." 

"And when is tea time here?" 

"Why, ma'm, everybody has their tea in the afternoon 
along four or thereabouts, and sees their friends." 

"Can I get a carriage here, do you know.'^" 

"I can get a pony carriage, ma'm. We hires it when we 
need it, only we must speak for it early, or it may be 
taken." 

" Oh ! Then will you please speak for it soon ? I would 
like to have it." 

"Yes, ma'm. Will you drive yourself, ma'm, or shall 
I ask for a boy ? " 

Oh! I don't know. I can drive — but — " 
They are gentle ponies, ma'm. Any one can drive 
them." 

"Yes, but I don't know the way." 

"Yes, ma'm. Where would you like to go, ma'm?" 

"To Daneshead Castle." 

The bright-cheeked maid opened her round eyes wider 
and looked at Cassandra with new interest. "But, ma'm, 
— that is quite far, though the ponies are smart, too." 

"How far is it?" 

"It's quite a bit away from here, ma'm ; you'd have to 
start at two or thereabouts. I could take you myself if 
mother would let me, and tell you all the interesting places, 
but " — the girl looked at her shrewdly, a quickly with- 
drawn glance — " that depends on how well acquainted you 
are there, ma'm. Maybe you'd like better to have a man 
drive, and just let me go along to mind the baby for you." 

"Yes, I would," said Cassandra, gladly. 






Cassandra at Queensderry 279 

"Thank you. I'll run for the ponies now, ma'm.** 

Cassandra heard her boots clatter rapidly down the 
wooden stairs at the back of the house, and presently saw 
her dashing across the inn yard, bareheaded and with her 
bare arms rolled in her apron. 

The girl's manner of receiving the statement that she 
wished to drive to the castle was not lost on Cassandra's 
sensitive spirit. She sat a moment, thoughtful and sad, 
then rose and set herself to prepare carefully for the visit. 
In the afternoon ! Then she might wear the silk gown 
and lovely hat. Once more she tried to arrange her hair 
as she saw other young women wear theirs, and again 
swept its heavy masses back loosely from her brow and 
coiled it low as her custom was. 

The landlady's daughter chattered happily as they 
drove. She held the baby on her knee, and he played 
with the blue beads she wore about her neck, while Cas- 
sandra sat with hands dropped passively in her lap, her 
body leaning a little forward, straight and poised as if to 
move more rapidly along, her red lips parted as if 
listening and waiting, and her eyes courteously turning 
toward the places and objects pointed out to her, yet 
neither seeing nor hearing, except vaguely. 

Presently becoming aware that the chatter was 
about the family at Daneshead Castle, her interest 
suddenly awoke. About the old lord — how vast his 
possessions — how ancient the family — how neglected the 
castle had been ever since Lady Thryng's death, — every- 
thing allowed to run down, even though they were so vastly 
rich — how different everything was now the parsimonious 
old lord was dead and the new lord had come in, and there 
were once more ladies in the family — what a time since 
there had been a Lady Thryng at Daneshead — how much 
Lady Laura was like her cousin Lyon — how reckless she 
would be if her mother did not hold her with a firm hand 
— and so the chatter ran on. 

The girl enjoyed the distinction of knowing all about the 
great family and enlightening this stranger from America, 
whose silent attention and occasional monosyllablic replies 
were sufficient to inspire her friendly efforts to entertain. 
Moreover, her curiosity concerning Cassandra and her 
errand, where she was evidently neither expected nor known, 



280 The Mountain Girl 

was piqued and lively, and she threw out many tentative 
remarks to probe if possible the stranger lady's thoughts. 

"Have you ever seen Lord Thryng — the new lord, I 
mean, ma'm ? " 

"Yes," said Cassandra, simply, a chill striking to her 
heart to hear him mentioned thus. 

"He's been out here directing the repairs himself, and 
getting the place ready for his mother and Lady Laura; 
but I never saw him. They say he's perfectly stunning. 
Quite the lord. Is he so very handsome, do you think ? " 

"Yes." Cassandra looked away from the girl's search- 
ing eyes. 

"They say he never has married, and that is fortunate 
too ; for he has lived so long in America, and never expecting 
to come into the title, he might have married somebody 
his own set over here never could have received, and that 
would have been bad, wouldn't it.^^" 

Cassandra turned and looked gravely at the girl. She 
wished to stop her, but could not think hov/ to do it. She 
could not bear to hear her husband talked over in this way. 

"They are tremendous swells. Lady Thryng looks 
high for him, and well she may, for mother says he's 
worthy of a princess, he's that rich and high bred, too, for 
all that he was only a doctor over in America. Mother 
says it's very fortunate he never married some common 
sort over there. They say Lady Thryng wants him to 
marry Lady Geraldine Temple's daughter. She is a great 
beauty, and has a pretty fortune in her own right, too. 
They'll be rich enough to entertain the king ! And they 
may do it, too, some day." 

Cassandra sat still and cold. She could not stop the 
girl now. "Lady Laura's coming out is to be next week, 
so his lordship must be home soon. They say it will be 
a very grand affair ! And I am to see it all, for mother 
says she will have a maid, and I may go out there to serve, 
and I shall see all the decorations and the fine dresses. 
That will be fine, won't it, baby ? " 

She untied the blue beads and dangled them before the 
baby's eyes, and he caught at them and gurgled in baby 
glee. Cassandra sat silent, rigid, and cold, unheeding the 
child or the girl, only vaguely hearing the chatter. 

"And that will be grand, won't it, baby ? But he is a 



Cassandra at Queensderry ^81 

love, this boy ! There is Daneshead Castle now, ma'm. 
You see it through the trees, but the grounds are so large 
we have to drive a good bit before we are there." 

The driver turned the ponies' heads, and they scampered 
through a high stone gateway and along a smooth road 
which wound through a dense wood, with green open 
spaces interspersed, where deer were browsing. All was 
very beautiful and quiet and sweet, but Cassandra, sitting 
with wide-open eyes, gravely beautiful, did not see it. 

To the girl everything was delightful. She had not the 
slightest doubt that the American lady was very rich. That 
she travelled so simply and alone was nothing. They all 
did queer things — the Americans. She was obtusely 
unconscious that she had been speaking slightingly of them 
to one of themselves, and she talked on after the romantic 
manner of girls the world over, giving the gossip of 
the inn parlors as she listened to it evening after evening, 
where the affairs of the nobility were freely discussed and 
enlarged and commented upon with eager interest. 

What was spoken in her ladyship's chamber and Lady 
Laura's boudoir — their half -formed plans and aspira- 
tions — carelessly dropped words and unfinished sentences 

— quickly travelled to the housekeeper's parlor — to the 
servant's table — to the haunts of grooms and stable boys 

— to the farmer's daughters — and to the public rooms 
of the Queensderry Inn. 

Thus it was Cassandra heard tales of the brother and 
sister and mother of her David, and of him also. How it 
was said that once he was engaged to a rich tradesman's 
daughter but had broken it off and gone to America against 
the wishes of all his family, and had become a common 
practitioner there to the disgust of all his relatives ; and 
again Cassandra felt that she had left a sweet and lovely 
world behind her to step into "Vanity Fair." 

She tried to hold fast her faith in goodness and high 
purpose. She was sure — sure — David had been moved 
by noble motives ; why should she not trust him now ? 
Did this girl know him better than she — his wife .? Yet, 
in spite of her valiant spirit, two facts fell like leaden 
weights upon her heart. David had not told his people 
that he had a wife, and they would be offended that he had 
"tied himself to a common sort over there." This David 



282 The Mountain Girl 

whom she loved was so high above her in the eyes of all 
his relatives and perhaps even in his own. What — ah, 
what could she do ! Might she still hold him in her heart ? 
She could not walk in upon them now and betray him — 
never — never. 

Her lips grew pale, and her head swam, but she sat still, 
leaning a little forward in the moving phaeton, her hands 
tightly clasped in her lap and her babe unheeded at her 
side, until the red returned to her lips and again burned 
in a clearly defined spot against the pallor of her cheek. 
She did not know that a strange, unearthly beauty was 
hers. A carriage met them filled with gay people. She 
did not notice them, but they gazed at her and turned to 
look again as they passed. 

"I say, you know ! " said one of the men, as they whirled 
by. 

"There, that was Lady Geraldine Temple in that car- 
riage, and the young man who stared so hard is her son. 
They've been paying a visit, or maybe they've brought 
Lady Clara to stay a bit. They say both families are keen 
for the match — and why shouldn't they be ? Oh, they'll 
entertain the king here some day, and then there'll be high 
times at Daneshead !" 

An automobile flashed by them, and then another. 
"There must be a party here to-day, or likely it's visitors 
dropping in, now it's getting toward tea time. It's all 
right, ma'm," she added, as Cassandra stirred uneasily. 
"It must be only visitors, or I would have heard of it. 
They're keeping open house now, though they don't go 
anywhere themselves yet. You see it's a year since the 
deaths, so they could mourn them all at once, and not spin 
it along. They had to wait a year before Lady Laura's 
coming out — rightly. Let the ponies walk now, driver. 
I beg pardon, ma'm." The girl had so taken possession 
of Cassandra, the baby, and the whole expedition, that 
she gave the order unthinkingly. 

"Yes, let them walk," said Cassandra, and drew a long 
breath. She heard gay laughter, and caught sight through 
the trees of light dresses and wide, plumed hats. Some 
one sat on the terrace at a table whereon was shining 
silver. 

There, I said so ! That's Lady Clara pouring tea. 



{(I 



Cassandra at Queensderry 283 

I say, but she's a beauty ! Isn't she ? No, no. Go to 
the front, driver. American ladies don't call at the side." 

"There's a hautomobile there, ma'm." 

"Then wait a moment. Don't be a stupid." 

Thus, aided by the innkeeper's clever daughter, Cas- 
sandra at last made her entrance properly and was guided 
to the presence of David's mother, who had not joined her 
guests, having but just closed an interview with Mr. Stret- 
ton. As she saw Cassandra standing in the drawing-room 
waiting her. Lady Thryng came graciously forward. The 
lovely August weather had tempted every one out of doors, 
and the great room was left empty save for these two, 
David's mother and his mfe. 

The beauty of other-worldliness which had infused 
Cassandra's whole being as she fought her silent battle 
during the long drive, still enveloped her. If she could 
have followed her impulses, she would have held out both 
hands and cried : "Take me and love me. I am David's 
wife." But she would not — she must not. Her heritage 
of faith in goodness — both of God and man — kept her 
heart open, and gave her power to think and act rightly 
in this her hour of terrible trial ; even as a little child, 
being behind the veil which separates the soul from God, 
may, in its innocent prattle, utter words of superhuman 
wisdom. 

"I am sorry if I have interrupted you when you have 
company," she said slowly. "I am a stranger — an 
American." 

"Ah, you Americans are a happy lot and may go where 
you please. Take this seat by the window; it is very 
warm. My son has been in America, but he tells us so 
little, we are none the wiser for that, about your part of 
the world." 

I knew him in America. That is why I called." 
Yes.'^" The mother bent forward and regarded her 
curiously, attentively. 

"He lived very near us. He did a great deal of good — 
among the poor." She put her hand to her slender white 
throat, then dropped it again in her lap. Then, looking 
in Lady Thryng's eyes, she said: "I have seen your pic- 
ture. I should have known you from that, but you are 
more beautiful." 



if 



284 The Mountain Girl 

"Oh! That can hardly be, my dear! It was taken 
many years ago, you know." 

"Yes, he said so — his lordship — only there we called 
him Doctah Thryng." 

A shadow flitted over the mother's face. "He was a 
practitioner over there — never in England." 

"That is a pity; it is such noble work. But perhaps 
he has other things to do here." 

"He has — even more noble work than the practice of 
medicine." 

"What does he do here?" asked Cassandra, in a low 
voice. 

"He must take part in the affairs of government. Very 
ordinary men may study and practise medicine, but unless 
men who are wise, and are nobly born and bred, make it 
their business to care for the affairs of their country, the 
nation w^ould sooh be wrecked. That is what saves Eng- 
land and makes her great." 

"I see." Cassandra sat silent then, and Lady Thrjmg 
waited expectantly for her errand to be declared, curious 
about this beautiful young creature who had stepped into 
her home unannounced from out of the unknown, yet 
graciously kindly and unhurried. " I think I know. With 
us men are too careless. They think it isn't necessary, 
I suppose." Again she paused with parted lips, as if she 
would speak on, but could not. 

"With you, men are too busy making money, I am told. 
It is necessary to have a leisure class like ours." 

"Oh!" Cassandra caught her breath and smiled. 
She was thinking of the silver pot her mother had enjoined 
her to take with her, and why. "But we do think a great 
deal of family ; even the simplest of us care for that, al- 
though we have no leisure class — only the loafers. I'm 
afrai4 you think it very strange I should come to you in 
this way, but I — thought I would like to see Doctah 
Thryng again, and when I heard he was not in England, I 
thought I would come to you and bring the messages 
from those who loved him when he was with us. But 
I mustn't stop now and take your time. I'll write them 
instead, only that wouldn't be like seeing him. He stayed 
a whole year at our place." 

"And you came from Canada.'*" 



Cassandra at Queensderry 285 

"Oh, no. A long way from there. My home is in 
North Carolina." 

"Oh, indeed ! How very interesting ! That must 
have been when he was so ill." Then, noticing Cassandra's 
extreme pallor, she begged her most kindly to come out on 
the terrace and have tea; but she would not. She felt 
her fortitude giving way, and knew she must hasten. "But 
you must, you know. The heat and your long ride have 
made you faint." 

"I — I'm afraid so. It — won't — last." 

"Wait, then. You must take a little wine; you need 
it." Roused to sympathy. Lady Thryng left her a mo- 
ment and returned immediately with a glass of wine, which 
she held to her lips with her own hand. "There, you will 
soon be better. Here is a fan. It really is very warm. 
Indeed, you must have tea before you go." 

She took her passive hand and led her out on the terrace 
unresisting, and again Cassandra was minded to throw her 
arms about the lovely woman's neck, who was so sweet 
and kind, and sob on her bosom and tell her all — but David 
had his own reasons, and she would not. 

"Do you stay long in England?" 

"I am going to-morrow. Oh !" she exclaimed, as they 
stepped out, and she saw the number of elaborately dressed 
guests moving about and gayly chatting and laughing. 
"I can't go out there. I am a strangah." It was a low 
melancholy wail as she said it, and long afterward Lady 
Thryng remembered that moaning cry, "I am a strangah.'* 

"No, no. You are an American and a very beautiful 
one. Come, they will be glad to meet you. Give me 
your name again." 

"Thank you — but I must — must go back." Sud- 
denly, with a cry, "My baby, he is mine," she swept 
forward with long, swinging steps toward a group who were 
bending over a rosy-cheeked girl, who was seated on the 
steps of the terrace with a child in her arms. She was 
comforting him and cuddling and petting him, and those 
around her were exclaiming as young girls will : " Isn't he 
a dear ! " — " Oh, let me hold him a moment ! " — '* There, 
he is going to cry again. No wonder, poor little chap ! " — 
" Oh, look at his curls — so cunning — give him to 



me." 



286 The Mountain Girl 

Seeing his mother, he put up his arms to her and smiled, 
while two tears rolled down his round baby cheeks. 

*'I found him in the pony carriage with Hetty Giles, 
and he was crying so — and such a darling ! I just took 
him away — the love !" cried Laura. *'Why, we saw you 
yesterday at the Victoria. I could not pass him by, you 
remember?" 

The baby, one beaming smile, nestled his face bashfully 
in his mother's neck and patted her cheek, glancing side- 
wise at his admirers through brimming tears, while Cas- 
sandra, her eyes large and pathetic, turned now on Laura, 
now on her mother, stood silent, quivering like one of her 
own mountain creatures brought to bay. But she was 
strengthened as she felt her baby again in her arms, and as 
she stood thus looking about her, every one became silent, 
and she was constrained to speak. She did not know 
that something in her manner and appearance had com- 
manded silence — something tragic — despairing. It was 
but for an instant, then she turned to Lady Laura. 

'* Thank you for comforting him. I ought not to have 
left him. I nevah did before, with strangahs." She tried 
to bid Lady Thryng good-by, but Laura again besought 
her to stop and have tea. 

"Please do. I fairly adore Americans. I want to talk 
to you ; I mean, to hear you talk." 

Cassandra had mastered herself at last, and replied 
quietly : "I don't guess I can stay, thank you. You have 
been so kind." Then she said to Lady Thryng, "Good- 
by," and moved away. Laura walked by her side to the 
carriage. 

"I hope you'll come again sometime, and let me know 

you." 

"You are right kind to say that. I shall nevah forget." 
Then, leaning down from the carriage seat, and looking 
steadily in Laura's warm, dark eyes, she added: "No, I 
shall nevah forget. May I kiss you?" 

"You sweet thing!" said the girl, impulsively, and, 
reaching up, they kissed. Cassandra said in her heart, 
"For David," and was driven away. 

Laura found her mother standing where they had left 
her. She had been deeply stirred by the sight of Cassandra 
with the child in her arms. Not that beautiful mothers 



Cassandra at Queensderry 287 

and lovely children were rare in England; but that, ex- 
cept for the children of the poor, no little one like this had 
been in her own home or so near her in all the years of her 
widowhood. It was the sight of that strong mother love, 
overpowering and sweeping all before it, recognizing no 
lesser call — the secret and holy power that lies in the 
Christ-mother, for all periods and all peoples — she herself 
had felt it — and the cry that had burst from Cassandra's 
lips, "My baby — he is mine." Tears stood in Lady 
Thryng's eyes, and yet it was such a simple little thing. 
Mothers and babies ? Why, they were everywhere. 

" She moved like a tragic queen," said Lady Clara. 
"What was the matter ?" 

" Nothing, only her baby had been crying; but wasn't 
he a love ?" said Lady Laura. 

"I say ! He was a perfect dear !" said one and another. 

"I don't care much for babies," said Lady Clara. 
"They ought to be trained to stay with their nurses and 
not cry after their mammas like that. Fancy having 
to take such a child around with one everywhere, even 
in making a formal call, you know ! Isn't it absurd ? 
American women spoil their children dreadfully, I have 
heard." 



CHAPTER XXXI 

IN WHICH DAVID AND HIS MOTHER DO NOT AGREE 

The day after Cassandra's flight from Queensderry 
David returned. Although greatly prolonged, his African 
expedition had been successful, and he was pleased. He 
had improved his opportunities to learn political conditions 
and know what might best advance England's power 
in that remote portion of her possessions. 

Mr. Stretton had informed him that he might soon be 
called to a seat in the House, and he was glad to be in 
a measure prepared to hold opinions of his own on a few, 
at least, of the vital issues. Canada he already knew well, 
and to be conversant also with the state of affairs in 
South Africa gave him greater confidence. 

The first afternoon of his return he spent in looking over 
the changes which had been in progress at Daneshead 
during his absence. In spite of his weariness, he seemed 
buoyant and gay, more so, his mother thought, than at 
any time since his return from America. She said noth- 
ing about the episode of Cassandra's call, — possibly for 
the time it was forgotten, — but as they parted for the 
night, w^hen they were alone together. Lady Thryng again 
broached to her son the subject of his marriage. 

*'We have had a visit from Lady Clara Temple," she 
said. 

David lay upon a divan with his hands clasped beneath 
his head, and the light from a reading lamp streamed upon 
his sunny hair, which always looked as if some playful 
breeze had just lifted it. His whole frame had the sin- 
ewy appearance of energy and power. His mother's 
heart swelled with love and pride as she looked at his 
smiling, thoughtful face, and down upon his lean, strong 
body that in its lassitude expressed the vigor of a splen- 
did animal at rest. 

288 



David and his Mother 289 

Still more would she have given thanks for the resto- 
ration of this beloved son could she have been able to con- 
trast his present state with his condition when, ill and 
discouraged, he had gone to the lonely log cabin in a 
wilderness, struggling to build up both body and spirit, 
far from the sympathy and fellowship of his own. 

Now she thrilled with the thought of what he might 
achieve if only he would, but her heart misgave her that 
he still held some strange notions of life. She thought 
the surest way to control his quixotic impulses was to 
provide him with a good, practical wife, — one who would 
see the world as it is and accept conditions that are stable, 
not trying to move mountains, yet with sufficient am- 
bition for both her husband and herself. With a wife and 
children a man could not afford to be erratic. 

*'WTiat were you saying, mother?" 

*'^Vhat were you thinking, David, that you did not 
hear me ? I am telling you we have just had a very de- 
lightful visit from Lady Clara Temple, and Lady Temple 
and her son have called." 

David made no reply. He seemed to think the remark 
called for none. " Well, David ? " 

"Well, mother ? " and then : "I think I will go to bed. 
I am rarely tired, and bed is the place for me." He kissed 
his mother, then took hold of her chin and lifted her face 
to look in his eyes. "What is it, little mother, what is 
it ?" he asked gayly and obtusely. 

"Aren't you a bit stupid, David, not to see ? I wish 
— I do wash you could care for Lady Clara. She really 
is charming." 

" I do care for her — as Lady Clara Temple. She is 
charming, and, as you say of me, a bit stupid. What 
has Laura been doing these two months ? " 

"Preparing for her coming out after her own fashion. 
We've been a good deal in town, but she has a reckless way 
of doing anything she pleases, quite regardless." 

"She is a big-hearted fine lass, mother. Don't let her 
ways trouble you." 

"She needs the right influence, and Lady Clara seems 
to exert it over her — at least I think she will in time." 

"Ah, very good, let her. I won't interfere. Good 
night, little mother; sleep well. If I am late in the morning, 



290 The Mountain Girl 

don*t be annoyed. I've had three wakeful nights. The 
sea was very rough." 

"David ! " Lady Thryng placed her hands on his shoul- 
ders and held him, looking in his eyes. " Marry Lady 
Clara. You are worthy of a princess, my son. You 
can afford to be ambitious. The day may come when 
you can entertain the king." 

"Now really, mother; I'll entertain the king with 
pleasure. He's a fine old chap. A little gay, you know, 
but quite the right sort. But Lady Clara is a step too 
high. She'd rub it into me some day that I'd married 
above my station, you know. Good night. Dream of the 
king, mother, but not of Lady Clara." 

He sought his bed, and was soon soundly sleeping, 
content with the thought that next week he would sail 
for America and have Laura's coming out postponed. 
The family festivity was following too closely on the year 
of mourning, at any rate. The announcement that he 
already had a penniless American wife would naturally 
be a blow to them, all the more so if his mother was 
seriously cherishing such hopes as she had expressed ; 
but he couldn't be a cad. His conscience smote him that 
his conduct already bordered closely on the caddish, but 
to be an out and out cad, — no, no. 

When he awoke, — late, as he had said, but refreshed 
and jubilant, — the revelation he must make seemed to him 
less formidable, and he was minded to make it with no 
more delay as he tossed over his mail, while breakfasting 
in his room. 

"Ah, what is this ?'^ A letter in his wife's hand, bear- 
ing the Liverpool postmark ! Was she on her way to him, 
then ? "Good God ! " He tore off the cover hastily, but 
sat a moment with bowed head, his hand over his eyes, 
before reading it. 

" My dear David, — My husband, forgive me. I have 
done wrong, but I meant to do right. They said words 
of you, — on our mountain, David, — words I hated ; 
and I lied to them and came to you. I told them you 
had sent for me. I did it to prove to them that what 
they were saying was not true. I took the money you 
gave me and came to England, and now God has punished 



David and his Mother 291 

me, and I am going back. I know you will be surprised 
when I tell you how wrong I have been. I would not 
write you I had borne you a little son, because I did not 
want you to come back to America for his sake, but 
for mine. My heart was that proud. Oh ! David, for- 
give me." David's face grew pale, and the paper trem- 
bled in his hand, but he read eagerly on. 

" My heart cries to you all the time. He is yours, David; 
forgive me. He is very beautiful. He is like you. Your 
sister held him in her arms, and I kissed her for love of 
you, but she did not know why. She did not guess the 
beautiful baby was yours — your very own. Your 
mother saw him, but she did not guess he was hers — 
her little grandson. I took him away quickly. They 
might have kept him if they knew. You will let me have 
him a little longer, won't you, David ? When he is older, 
you will have to take him home and educate him, but 
now — now — he is all I have of you. Soon the terrible 
ocean will be between us again. 

"It will be just the same in your home now as if I had 
never come. I did not say I was your wife — for you 
had not — and I would not tell them. I want you to 
know this, so nothing will be changed by me. In London, 
before I knew, when I thought you were there, when I 
did not understand, I wrote my name in the hotel book, 
but in Queensderry something in my heart stopped me 
and I only wrote my old name, Cassandra Merlin. I must 
have been beginning to understand." 

David paused and dashed the tears from his eyes. 
"Poor little heart! Poor little heart!" he cried. He 
paced the room, then tried to read again. The letters, 
blurred by his tears, seemed to dance about and run 
together. 

"Now I see it all clearly, David, and, after a little, God 
will help me to live on the happiness you brought me in 
our sweet year together. There was happiness for a 
lifetime in that year. Comfort your heart with that 
thought when you think of me, and do not be too sad. 

"Oh, David ! I did not know that to save me from 
marrying Frale and living a life worse than death you 
sacrificed yourself. But you did not need to do it. After 
knowing you and after doing what he did to you, I 



292 The Mountain Girl 

never could have married him. I only knew you came 
to me and saved me from the terrible life I might have 
led, and I took you as from God. I have seen the beau- 
tiful lady you should have married, and I don't know 
what to do, nor how to give you back to yourself. I 
suppose there may be a way, but we have made our vows 
to each other before God, and we must do no sin. My 
heart is heavy. I would give you all, all, but I can't 
take back the love I gave you. I could die to set you 
free again, for in that way I could keep the blessed love 
which is part of my soul, in heaven with me, only for our 
little son. My life is his now, too, and I have no right to 
die, not yet, even to set you free. 

"Oh, David, David ! This must be the shadow I saw 
clouding our long path of light. In some terrible way 
it has been laid on me to do you a wrong in the eyes of 
your family and all your world. Your mother told me 
you had work to do for your country, great and glorious 
work. I believe it, and you must do it and not let an 
ignorant mountain girl stand in your way. 

*'0h ! I can't think it out to-night. When I try to see 
a way, I can't. The visions are lost to my eyes, and they 
may never come again. The windows of my soul are 
clouded, and the clear seeing is gone, because, David, I 
know it is myself that comes between. I can only cry 
to you now to forgive me. Don't let me mar your great, 
good life. Don't try to come back to me. Stay on and 
live your life and do your work, and I will keep your little 
son safe for you, and teach him to love you and call you 
father, and he shall be called David. He has no name 
yet ; I was waiting for you. It will only be a little while 
before he will need you, then you may take him. Your 
mother and sister will love him. He will be a great boy 
full of laughter and light, like you, David, and then your 
mountain girl wife will be gone and your sacrifice at an 
end, and your reward will come at last. 

"I will go back and stay quietly where I belong. Don't 
send me any more money. I have enough to take me 
home, and I can earn all we need after that. Earning 
will help me by giving me something to do for our baby 
and so for you. Sometimes I will send you word that all 
is well with him, but do not write to me any more. It 



David and his Mother ^93 

will be easier for you so, and don't let your heart be too 
much troubled for me, David. It will interfere with your 
power and usefulness in your own world. Grieving is 
like fire set to a great tree. It burns the heart out of it 
first, and leaves the rest. A man must not be like that. 
With a woman it is different. Be glad that you did save 
me and brought me all these months of sweet, sweet 
happiness. I will live on the remembrance. 

"People have to bear the separation of death, and we 
will call the ocean that divides us Death, for our two 
worlds are divided by it. I sail to-morrow. You took 
me into your heart to save me, and now, David my love, 
I go out of your heart to save you, and give you back 
to your own life. Some day the cords that bind us to 
each other, the cords our vows have made, will part and 
set you free. Good-by, good-by, David my heart, 
David my love, David, David, good-by. 

" Cassandra Merlin." 

For a long instant David sat with the letter crushed in 
his hand, then suddenly awoke to energetic action. 

"To-day.? When does the boat leave? Good God! 
there may be time." He rang for a servant and began 
tossing his clothing together. " Curses on me for a cad 
— a boor — a lout — Why did I leave my mail until 
this morning and then oversleep ! Clark," he said, 
as the man appeared, "tell Hicks to bring the machine 
around immediately, then come for my bag." 

"Beg pardon, but the machine's out of order, my lord, 
and her ladyship's just going out in the carriage." 

"Why is it out of order? Hicks is a fool. Ask Lady 
Thryng to wait. No, pack my bag and send my boxes 
on after me as they are. I'll speak to her myself." 

He threw off his jacket, thrust his cap in his pocket, and 
dashed away, pulling on his coat as he went, holding the 
crushed pages of the letter in his hand. He overtook his 
mother as she was walking down the terrace. 

" Mother, wait," he cried, "I'm going with you, Where's 
Laura ? " 

"She was coming. I can't think what is delaying her." 

David hurried on to the carriage. " Get in, mother, 
I'll take her place. Get in, get in. We must be off." 



294 The Mountain Girl 

"David, are you out of your head ? " 

*' Yes, mother. Drive on, drive on. I must catch 
the first train for Liverpool — I may catch it. Put the 
horses through, John. Make them sweat,'* he said, lean- 
ing out of the carriage window. 

*' Explain yourself, David. Are you in trouble .f*" 

*'Yes, mother. Wait a little." 

She looked at her son and saw his mouth set, his eyes 
stern and anguished, and she placed her hand gently on 
his as they were being whirled away. "Your bags are 
not in, David, if you are going a journey." 

"Clark will follow with them, and I can wait in Liver- 
pool, if I can only catch this boat." 

"David, explain. If you can't, then let me read this," 
she pleaded, touching the letter in his hand; but he 
clutched it the tighter. 

"No one may read this, not even you." He pressed 
the crumpled sheets to his lips, then folded them care- 
fully away. "It's just that I've been a cad — a fiendish 
cad and an idiot in one. I thought myself a man of high 
ideals — My God, I am a cad ! " 

"David, you sacrificed yourself to ideals, but you are 
still a boy and have much to learn. When men try to 
set new laws for themselves and get out of the ordinary, 
they are more than apt to make fools of themselves, and 
may do positive harm. What is it now ? " 

"Can't you get over the ground any faster, John?" 
he cried, thrusting his head again out of the window. 
"These horses are overfed and lazy, like all the English 
people. Why was the machine out of order ? Hicks 
is a fool — I say !" He put his hand inside his collar 
and pulled and worked it loose. "We are all hidebound 
here. Even our clothes choke us." 

"David, tell me the truth." 

"I am telling you the truth. I ain a cad, I say. And 
you — you, too, are a part of the system that makes 
cads of us all." 

"I am your mother, David," said Lady Thryng, 
reprovingly. 

"You have reason to be proud of your son! Oh! 
curse me ! I won't be more of a cad than I am now by 
laying the blame on you. I could have helped it, but 



David and his Mother 295 

you couldn't. We are born and bred that way, over here. 
The petty lines of distinction our ancestors drew for us, 
— we bow down and worship them, and say God drew 
them. Over here a man hides the sun with his own 
hand and then cries out, 'Where is it.^'" 

"I would comfort you if I could, but this sounds very 
much like ranting. I thought you had outlived that sort 
of thing, my son." 

"Thank God, no. I've been very hard pressed of late, 
but I've not outlived it." 

*'You will tell me this trouble — now — before you 
leave me "^ You must, dear boy." He took the hand 
she put out to him, and held it in silence ; then, inco- 
herently, in a voice humbled and low, — almost lost in 
the rumbling of the carriage, — he told her. It was a 
revelation of the soul, and as the mother listened she 
too suffered and wept, but did not relent. 

Cassandra's cry, "I am a strangah!" sounded in her 
ears, but her sorrow was for her son. Yes, she was a 
stranger, and had wisely taken herself back to her own 
place ; what else could she do ? Was it not in the nature 
of a Providence that David had been delayed until after 
her departure ? The duty now devolved upon herself 
to comfort him without further reproof, but nevertheless 
to make him see and do his duty in the position he had 
been called to fill. 

I "Of course she has charm, David, and evidently good 
sense as well." 

"How do you mean.^" 

"To perceive the inevitable and return without fuss 
or complaint to her own station in life." 

For an instant he sat stunned, and ere he could give 
utterance to his rage, she resumed, "Naturally, marriage 
now, in your own class can't be; you'll simply have 
to live as a bachelor." David groaned. "Why, my 
son, many do, of their own choice, and you have man- 
aged to be happy during this year." 

He glanced at his watch. "Eleven o'clock, — can't — " 

"There's no use urging the horses so; we can't make 
it." 

"We may, mother, we may." He half rose as if he 
would leap from the vehicle. "I could go faster on foot. 



296 The Mountain Girl 

There's a quarter of an hour yet before the Liverpool 
express. John, can't we get on faster than this?" 

"No, my lord. One of the 'orses has picked up a 
stone. If you'll 'old 'em I'll dig it out in 'alf a minute, 
my lord." 

David sprang out and took the reins. "Where's the 
footman .f^" he asked testily. 

"You left 'im behind, my lord. He was 'elping Lady 
Laura cut roses." 

" David, this is useless. The last train from London 
went through an hour ago and we haven't ten minutes for 
the next. Order him to return and we'll consider calmly." 

David laughed bitterly, and only sprang into the coach 
and shut the door with a crash. " Drive on, John," he 
shouted through the window, and again they were off at a 
mad gallop. 

His mother turned and looked at him astounded. " Let 
me read what she has written you, my son," she implored, 
half frightened at his frenzy. 

" It's of no use for you to read it. We can't talk now, 
not rationally." 

" Then tell him not to drive so furiously, so we can hear 
each other." 

*' I would avoid useless discussion, mother, but you 
force it." An instant he paused, and his teeth ground 
together and his jaw set rigidly, then he continued with a 
savage force that appalled her, throwing out short sen- 
tences like daggers. " Lord H brings home an Ameri- 
can wife. His family are well pleased. She is every where 
received. Her father is a rich brewer. Her brother has 
turned out his millions from the business of pork packing. 
The stench from his establishment polutes miles of coun- 
try, but does not reach England — why ? Because of the 
disinfectant process of transmuting their greasy American 
dollars into golden English sovereigns. There's justice." 

" Be reasonable, David. Their estates were involved 
to the last degree and those sovereigns saved the family. 
Without them they would have passed out of their pos- 
session utterly, and been divided among our rich trades- 
people, and the family would have descended rapidly to 
the undergrades. It goes to show the value of birth, what 
is more, and how those Americans, who made^ a pretence 



David and his Mother ^97 

long ago of scorning birth and title and casting it all off, 
are glad enough now to buy their way back again, if not 
for themselves, for their children. But, David, for a man 
to voluntarily degrade his family by marrying beneath 
him, with no such need as that of Lord H , of ulti- 
mately by that very means lifting it up is — is — inexpres- 
sible — why — ! In the case of Lord H there was a 

certain nobility in marrying beneath him." 

" Beneath him ! For me, I married above me, over all 
of us, when I took my sweet, clean mountain girl. The 

nobility of Lord H is unique. Lady H made a 

poor bargain when she left the mingled stenches of brew- 
ing and butchering to step into the moral stench which 
depleted the Stonebreck estates." 

*' You are not like my son, David. You are violent." 

" Your son has been a cad. Now he is a man, and 
must either be violent or weep." He looked away from 
her out at the flying hedgerows, then took up the fruit- 
less discussion again, striving with more patience to arouse 
in his mother a sense of the utter w^orldliness of her stand. 
She met him at every point with the obtuse and age-long 
arguments of her class. When at last he cried out, " But 
what of my son, mother, my little son, and the heir to all 
this grandeur which means so much to you ? Her eye- 
lids quivered and she looked down, merely saying, " His 
mother has offered you a solution to that difficulty which 
seems to me the only wise one. You say she proposes to 
keep him a year or two and then send him to us." 

*' Ah, you are like steel, mother." David spoke plead- 
ingly, *' You thought him a beautiful child ? " 

*' I did, and a wholesome one, which goes to show that 
you may safely trust him with her for a time. Moreover, his 
mother has a right to him and the comfort she may find 
in him for a few years. You see I would be quite just to 
her. I do not accuse her of being designing in marrying 
you. No doubt it was quite your own fault. It is a posi- 
tion you two young people rushed into romantically and 
most foolishly, and you must both suffer the consequences. 
It is sad, but it must be regarded in the light of hard 
common sense, and my ungrateful task seems to be to 
place it in that light for both your sakes." 

Still David watched the hedgerows with averted face. 



298 The Mountain Girl 

" You are listening, David ? " 

" Yes, mother, yes. Common sense you said." 

"Can't you see, that to bring her here, where she does 
not belong — where she never will be received as belong- 
ing, even though she is your wife — will only cause 
suffering to you both ? Eventually misunderstandings 
will arise, then will come alienation and unhappiness. 
Then again, yours must be in a measure a public life, 
unless you mean to shirk responsibility. Has your 
country no claim on you ? " 

"I have no thought of shirking my duty, and am 
prepared to think and act also — " 

"You wish it to be effective .f* Has it never occurred 
to you how your avenues will be cut off if you marry a 
wife beneath your class ? " 

"What in God's name will my wife have to do with 
England's African policy.'^ Damme — " 

"David!" 

"Mother — I beg your pardon — " 

"She may have everything to do with it. No man 
can stand alone and foist his ideas upon such a body of 
men, without backing. Instead of hampering yourself 
with an ignorant mountain girl from America, you should 
have allied yourself to a strong family of position here, if 
you would be a power in England. What sort of a Lady 
Thryng will your present wife make ? What kind of a 
leader socially in your own class ? You might better try 
to place a girl from the bogs of Ireland at the head of your 
table." 

Again David's rage surged through him in a hot wave, 
but he controlled himself. " You admitted Cassandra 
has both beauty and charm ?** 

"Would my son have been attracted to her else? 
Nevertheless, what I say stands. As a help to you — " 

"You have done your duty, mother. I will say 
this for you — that for sophistry undiluted, a woman 
of the present day who stands where you do, can 
out-Greek the ancients. How is it we see so differ- 
ently ? Is it that I am like my father? How did he 
see things ? " 

" Your father was as much a nobleman as your uncle. 
Only by the accident of birth was he differently placed. 



David and his Mother 299 

Did I never tell you that but for his death he would have 
been created bishop of his diocese ? So you see — " 

** I see. By dying he just escaped a bishopric. Did it 
make a difference in his reception up above — do you 
think ? " 

*'0h, David, David!" 

*'I'm sorry mother — never mind. We're nearly there 
and I have something I must say to you before I leave 
you to end this discussion forever. There are two kinds 
of men in this world, — one sort is made by his circum- 
stances, and the other makes his circumstances. You 
would respect your son more if he belonged to the first 
variety, but I tell you no. I will make my own condi- 
tions. Before all else, I am a man. My lordship was 
thrust upon me. Don't interrupt, I beg, I know all 
you would say, but you do not know all I would say — 
My birth gave it to me certainly, but a cruel and bloody 
war was the means by which it came to me. Very well. 
I will take it and the responsibility which it entails; 
but the cruelty that brought me my title is ended and in 
no form shall it be continued, social or otherwise. I hold 
to the rights of my manhood. I will bring to England 
whom I please as my wife, and my world shall recognize 
her, and you will receive her because I bring her, and be- 
cause she will stand head and soul above any one you 
have here to propose for me. Here we are, mother 
dear. One kiss ? Thank you, thank you. Postpone 
Laura's coming out until — I return — which will be — 
when — vou know." 

He leaped from the carriage before it had time to halt, 
and ran, but alas ! bajffled and enraged at his ill success, 
he stood on the platform and watched the train pull 
out. It was only a slow local puffing away there. 

"Liverpool express left five minutes ago, my lord," 
said the guard. 

His mother leaned out, watching him with sad, yet 
eager eyes, satisfied that it should be so. He might re- 
turn now, and there was by no means an end to her 
opposition. 



CHAPTER XXXII 

IN WHICH CASSANDRA BRINGS THE HEIR OF DANESHEAD 
CASTLE BACK TO HER HILLTOP, AND THE SHADOW LIFTS 

"Cassandry Merlin, whar did you drap from ? " cried 
the Widow Farwell, as she looked up from the supper she 
was preparing at the great fireplace, and saw her daughter 
in the doorway with her baby. Her old face radiated 
light and warmth and love as she took them both in her 
arms. "Whar's David .^'; 

Cassandra smiled wearily, returning her mother's kiss 
and yielding her the baby. "You'll have to be satisfied 
with me and little son, mother. David was still in Africa, 
so I came home again." She spoke as if a trip to England 
were a casual little matter, and this was all the explana- 
tion she gave that night. "I got the hotel carriage to 
bring me up from the station." 

The mother, with quaint simplicity, accepted it, asking 
no troublesome questions. If David was not there, why 
should not her daughter return. After their supper to- 
gether, in the warm, starlit evening, each member of 
the family carrying something for the traveller's comfort, 
they all climbed up to Cassandra's cabin, and the old life 
began as if it had suffered no interruption. Cassandra 
so filled the pauses with questions of all that had happened 
during her absence that it was only after her mother was 
in bed and dropping off to sleep she remembered ques- 
tions of her own that had been unasked, or left unan- 
swered. 

The next day Cassandra pleaded weariness and stayed 
in her cabin, sending Martha down for her necessary 
supplies, and quietly occupying herself with setting her 
simple home in its accustomed order. The day after, 
she spent overlooking the little farm with Cotton, and 
hearing from him all about the animals. The cows, two 
little calves, Frale's colt, and her own filly, and how "some 

300 



The Shadow Lifts 301 

ol' houn' dog'* had got into the sheep-pen and killed the 
mother sheep, and "Marthy" had brought the twin 
lambs up by hand. And while Cassandra busied herself 
thus, the widow kept charge of the little grandson, warm- 
ing her heart with his baby ways, petting him and solacing 
herself for his long absence. 

Thus the first days were lived through, and no further 
explanation made, for something held Cassandra silent 
in a strange waiting suspense. It was not hope, for she 
felt that she had taken a stand which was conclusive, 
and there was nothing more for which to hope. What 
else could she do, and what could David do ^ The con- 
ditions were made for them ; each must bide in his own 
world, and she had named the ocean which divided them, 
**Death." 

At night she did not weep, for weeping made her ill, 
and she must conserve her strength for her little son, so 
she lay staring out at the stars. Sometimes she found 
herself holding her breath and listening, — half lifting 
her head from her pillow, — but listening for what ? 
Then she would lean over her baby's cradle, and hear 
his soft breathing, trying to make herself think she was 
listening for that and not for David's step. Then she 
would lie back and try again to sleep, and her heart would 
cry to God to give her peace, and let her rest. So the 
long nights passed, tearlessly and sleeplessly. 

On the boat she had slept, lulled by its rocking and 
swaying, but here in her home — in her accustomed 
routine — sleep had fled, and old thoughts and dreams 
came like the dead to haunt her. The paleness which 
had come upon her in London, and which the sea breeze 
had supplanted with fleeting roses, returned, and she 
moved about looking as if only her wraith had come back 
to its old haunts. 

On the third day after Cassandra's return, David 
found himself climbing the laurel path a far different 
man from the one who, two years before, had slowly 
and wearily toiled up to the little house of logs which was 
to be his shelter. With strong, free step and heart up- 
lifted and glad, he now climbed that winding path. He 
had conquered the ills of his body, and his spirit had lived 
and loved, and he had learned to know happiness from 



302 The Mountain Girl 

its counterfeit. He had gone out and seen men chasing 
phantoms and shadows thinking therein to find joy — joy 
— the need of the world — one in a coronet, one in a 
crown, and the beggar in a golden sovereign — while he — 
he had found it in his own heart and in Cassandra's eyes. 

David had passed the Fall Place, seeing no one ; for the 
widow had ridden over to spend the day with Sally Carew, 
her niece was in the spring-house skimming cream, while 
Cotton was dawdling in the corn patch whistling and 
pulling the ripened ears from the stalks. A cool breeze 
had dispelled the heat of the September afternoon, and 
the hills were already beginning to don their gorgeous 
apparel after the summer's drouth ; their wonderful 
beauty struck him anew and steeped his senses with their 
charm. 

If only gjl was well with his wife — his wife and his 
little son ! His heart beat so madly as he neared the 
thicket of laurel where once he had stood to w^atch her 
moving about his cabin, that he was forced to pause; 
and again he saw her, standing in her homespun dress, 
strongly relieved against the whiteness of the canvas 
room beyond — but this time not alone — Ah, not alone ! 
Holding his little son in her arms, her body swaying with 
rhythmic motion, lulling him to drowsiness and sleep, 
she stooped to lay him in the rude little cradle box. 

David trembled as he watched, and dashed the tears 
from his eyes, but could not move to break too soon this 
breathless, poignant spell of gladness. Suddenly he 
could wait no longer, but his feet clung to the earth when 
he would move, and his mouth went dry. Ah, could he 
never reach her ? He stood holding out his arms, when, 
oh, wonder of wonders ! she raised herself and stood as 
if listening, then, moving swiftly, walked from the cabin 
and came to him as if she had heard him call, although 
he had made no sound — her arms outstretched to him 
as were his to her. 

She did not cry out, but with parted lips and radiant, 
glowing face, fled to him and was clasped to his heart. 
She could feel its beating against her breast, and his 
silence spoke to her through his eyes, which saw not her 
face but her soul ; his lips brought the roses to her cheeks 
as the sea breezes had done — roses that came and fled 



The Shadow Lifts 303 

and came again — until at last it was Cassandra who 
spoke first. 

"I want you to see him, David." 

"Yes, yes, my wife," was all he said, his eyes on hers, 
but he did not move. 

"I want you to see our little son, David." A strange 
pang shot through his heart. Still he stood, holding her 
and marvelling at himself. What ! Was it that this young 
usurper had stolen into his place ? 

"Love is selfish, dear. Let me recover from one joy 
before you overwhelm me with another. First, I must 
have my own, and know that it is all mine." 

"I don't understand, David. I can't wait. Oh! 
David — David!" 

"You turn my name to music with your tones lingering 
over it. I had forgotten how sweet it was." 

"But I don't understand, David. Come and see him." 
And as she drew him forward, they moved as one being, 
not two. 

"No, you don't understand, thank God. But I will 
teach you something you never knew. Love is not only 
blind, dearest ; he is a greedy, selfish little god." 

Then she laughed happily, holding him at arm's-length 
and looking in his eyes. "I know it. I know it. I 
found it out all by myself. Didn't I tell you in my letter ? 
Oh, David, so was I !" She drew him to her again and 
nestled her face in his bosom. "I was jealous of our little 
son. I wanted you, David — Oh ! I wanted you." At 
last came the tears, the blessed human tears which she had 
held back so long. But now they did no harm except to 
drench her husband's gray tie, and they brought a lovely 
flush to her face. "I can't stop, David; I can't stop. I 
haven't cried for so long, and now I can't stop." 

"Sweetheart, don't try to stop. Cry it all out. Wash 
the stains from me of the cruel old world where I have been ; 
cleanse me so that I may see as clearly as you see ; but you 
would have to cry forever to do that, wouldn't you, sweet ? 
And soon you must laugh again." 

He clasped and comforted her as she was used to comfort 
her baby, soothing her and drying her eyes with his own 
handkerchief. "Yours isn't large enough for such a 
flood, is it, sweet ? " 



304 The Mountain Girl 

"No, a — a — and I — I can-can't find mine," she 
sobbed. "I — I — left it tucked under baby's chin — 
and now I've spoiled your pretty gray tie." 

" Bless you ! They are my tears, and it is my tie — " 

'* David ! He is crying — hark ! " 

*' Helping his mother, is he "^ Come then, his father will 
comfort him." 

"Hear him. Isn't it a sweet little cry, David .f^" She 
smiled at him from under tear- wet lashes. 

"Why, bless you again ! Yours was a sweet little cry." 
They w^ent in, and he bent over the odd little cradle and 
lifted the child tenderly from its soft nest. The wailing 
ceased, and the fatherhood awoke in him and laughed with 
joy as he held the warm little body to his heart, wherein 
now, he knew, lay the key of life — the complete and 
rounded love, God's gift to man, to be cherished when 
found, and fought for and held in the holy of holies of his 
own soul. 

"He isn't afraid, you see, David. How he stares at 
you ! Does he feel it in his own little heart that you are 
his father ? I have whispered it to him a thousand, 
thousand times. Sit here with him, David, and I'll make 
you some tea." She busied herself with the tea things 
— the old life beginning anew — with a new interest. 

"I always make it just as you taught me that first day 
when I came up here so choked with trouble I couldn't 
speak. You always brought me good, David." 

He saw as he watched her that some new and subtile 
charm had been added to her personality. Was it mother- 
hood that had given it to her, or the long year of patient 
waiting and trusting; or had she passed through depths 
of which he as yet knew nothing, to cause this evanescent 
breath of pathos ? He felt and knew it was all of these. 
What must she have endured as she wrote that letter ! 

David fell easily and happily into his life on the moun- 
tain again — not the English lord, but the vital, human 
being, the man in splendid possession of himself and his 
impulses, holding sacred his rights as a man, not to be 
coerced by custom or bound by any chains save those he 
himself had forged to bind his heart before God. 

For a time he would not allow himself to think of the 



The Shadow Lifts 305 

future, preferring to live thus with the world completely 
shut away. Buoyantly, jubilantly, he tramped the hills 
and visited the homes where he had been wont to bring 
help and often comforts, and found himself therein lauded 
and idolized as few of his station ever are. 
" Again he was "Doctah Thryng," and the love that 
accompanied the title, in the hearts of those mountain 
people, was regal. He enjoyed his little farm, and the 
gathering of his first "crap," counting his bundles of 
fodder and his bushels of corn. Sometimes he rode with 
Cassandra, visiting the old haunts ; at such times David 
insisted that the boy be left with the grandmother or that 
Martha should come up to mind him, that he might have 
his wife free and quite to himself as in their first days. 

But all this time, although silent about it, Cassandra 
kept in her heart the thought of David's real state. She 
felt he was playing a part to bring her joy, and was grate- 
ful, but she knew he must return to his own world and live 
his own life. Therefore she existed in a state of breathless 
suspense, to enjoy these moments to the fullest, — not to 
miss or mar an instant of the blessed time while it lasted. 

The days were flying — flying — so rapidly she dared 
not think, and here was splendid October trailing her 
wonderful draperies over the hills like a lavish princess. 
When would David speak ? But perhaps he was waiting 
for her to speak first ? If so, how long ought she to remain 
silent ? Often he caught the wistful look in her eyes, and 
half divined the meaning. 

One day when they had wandered up her father's path, 
and the mnd came in warm, soft gusts, sweeping over the 
miles of splendor from the sea, David drew her to him, 
determined to win from her a full expression. 

"What is it, Cassandra? Open your heart. Don't 
shut anything away from me. What have you been 
dreaming lately .f^" 

"You have never said a word of fault with me yet, 
David — for what I did, going away off there and not 
waiting quietly until you could come back, as you wrote 
me to do." 

"That was the bravest, finest thing you ever did — but 
one." He was thinking of her renunciation. 

"You are so good to forgive me, David. In one way it 



/ 



306 The Mountain Girl 

was better that I went, because it made me understand as 
I never could have done otherwise. You would never have 
told me, but now I know." 

'* Unfold a little of this wisdom, so I may judge of its 
value." 

"Can you, David .^^ I'm afraid not. You have a way 
of bewildering me, so I can't see the rights and wrongs of 
things myself. But there ! It is just part of the dif- 
ference. Why, even the nursemaids over there, and Hetty 
Giles, the landlady's daughter, are wiser than I. I came 
to see it every instant, the difference between you and 
me — between our two worlds. David, how did you ever 
dare marry me ? 

He only laughed happily and kissed her. "Tell it all,'* 
he said tenderly. 

"I felt it first when I went to the town house. It was 
hard to find the address. I only had Mr. Stretton's." 
David set his teeth grimly in anger at himself at giving her 
only his lawyer's address, in stupid fear lest her letters 
betray him to his mother and sister. 

"Now, do not hide one thing from me — not one," he 
said sternly, and she continued, with a conscientious fear 
of disobedience, to open her heart. 

"I saw by the look in the old man's eyes that I had not 
done the right thing, coming in that way with a baby in 
my arms, like a beggar. I saw he was very curious, and 
I was that proud I didn't know what to tell him I had come 
for, when I found you were not there, so when he said 
artists often came to see the gallery, I said I had come to 
see the gallery; and David, I didn't even know what a 
gallery was. I thought it was a high piazza around a 
house, and I found it was a great room full of pictures. 
I was that ignorant. 

"I felt like I was some wild creature that had got lost 
in that splendid palace and didn't know where to run to 
get away; and they all fixed their eyes on me as if they 
were saying : * How does she dare come here ? She isn't 
one of us ! ' and one was a boy who looked like you. The 
old man kept saying how like it was to the new Lord 
Thryng, and it made me cold to hear it, — so cold that 
after I had escaped from there and was out in the sun, my 
teeth chattered." 



The Shadow Lifts 307 

David sat silent and humbled; at last he said: "Go 
on, Cassandra. Don't cover up anything." 

"When I got back to the hotel, everything seemed so 
splendid and stuffy and horrid — and every way I turned 
it seemed as if those dead ancestors of yours were there 
staring at me still ; and I thought what right had they 
over the living that they dared stand between you and me ; 
and I was angry." She stirred in his arms, and pressed 
closer to him. "David — forgive me — I can't tell it 
over — it hurts me." 

"Go on," he said hoarsely. 

"The old man told me what was expected of you because 
of them — how your mother wished you to marry a great 
lady — and I knew they could never have heard of me — 
and I forgot to eat my dinner and stayed in my room and 
fought and fought with myself — I'm sorry I felt that way, 
David. Don't mind. I understand now." She put up 
her hand and touched his cheek, and he took it in his and 
kissed it. Then she laughed a sad little laugh. 

"Remember that funny little old silver teapot. Mother 
brought it to me before I left, and I took it with me ! She 
is so proud of our family, although she has only that poor 
little pot to show for it, with its nose all melted off to make 
silver bullets sure to kill. Did you know it was one of 
those bullets Frale tried to kill you with ? Oh, David, 
David!" 

"And yet your mother is right, dear. That little 
wrecked bit of silver helps to interpret you — indicates 
your ancestors — how you come to be you — just as you 
are. How could I ever have loved you, if you had been 
different from what you are ?" 

For a long moment she lay still — scarcely breathing — 
then she lifted her head and looked in his eyes. One of her 
silences was on her, and while her lips trembled as if to 
speak, she said no word. He tried to draw her to him 
again, but she held him off. 

"Then tell me what it is," he said gently. But she only 
shook her head and rose to walk away from him. He did 
not try to call her back to him, respecting her silence, and 
she moved on up the path with long, swift steps. 

When she returned, he held out his arms to her, but she 
stood before him looking down into his eyes, "I couldn't 



308 The Mountain Girl 

tell you sitting there with your arms around me, David, 
and what I have to say must be said now ; I may never be 
strong enough to say it another time, and it must be said." 

Then she told him all that had occurred while she was in 
Queensderry, from the moment she came, going down into 
her heart and revealing the hidden thoughts never before 
expressed even to herself, while he gazed back into her eyes 
fascinated by her spiritual beauty which was her power. 

She told of the chatter of Hetty Giles, and how she had 
pointed out the beautiful lady his mother wished him to 
marry — and how slowly everything had dawned upon 
her — the real differences. Of the guests she had seen on 
the Daneshead terrace and how they wore such lovely 
dresses and moved so easily and laughed and talked all at 
once, as if they were used to it all, and perhaps wore such 
charming things for every day — the wonderful colors 
and wide, beautiful hats with plumes — and how even the 
servants wore pretty clothes and went about as if they all 
knew how to do things, passing cups and plates. 

Then she told of her talk with his mother and how care- 
fully she had guarded her tongue lest a word escape her 
he would rather not have had her speak. "I had wronged 
you in not telling you you had a son, and I meant to leave 
him with your mother so he could be raised right." She 
paused, and put her hand to her throat, then went bravely 
on. "Your mother was kind — she gave me wine — she 
brought it to me herself. I knew what I ought to do, but 
I wasn't strong enough. It seemed as if something here 
in my breast was bleeding, and my baby would die if I 
did it. When I came out, he was in your sister's arms and 
had been crying, and it seemed as if all I had planned had 
happened, and I took him and carried him away quickly. 
I couldn't go fast enough, and I left the inn that night. 
The world seemed all like Vanity Fair.^' 

David rose and stood before her looking down into her 
eyes. He could not control his voice in speaking, and she 
felt his hands quiver as they rested on her shoulders. 
"When did you read that book, Cassandra.? Where did 
you find it ?" he asked, in dismay. 

"Among your books in the cabin. I felt at first that it 
must be a kind of a disgrace to be a lord — as if every one 
who had a title or education must be mean and low, and 



The Shadow Lifts 309 

all the rest of the world over there must be fools; but 
because of you, David, I knew better than to believe that. 
Your mother is not like those women, either. She was 
kind and beautiful, and — I — loved her, but all the more 
I saw the difference. But now you have come to me and 
made me strong, I can do it. Everything has grown clear 
to me again, and I see how you gave yourself to me — to 
save me — when you did not dream of what was to be for 
you in the future; and out of your giving has come the 
— little son, and he is yours. Wait ! Don't take me in 
your arms." She placed her hands on his breast and held 
him from her. 

"So it was just now — when you spoke as if people 
would understand me better because of that little silver 
pot, showing I had somewhere in the past a name and a 
family like theirs over there — I thought of 'Vanity Fair,' 
and I hated it. I wish you had never seen it. There is, 
nor has been, nothing on earth to make me possible for 
you, now — your inheritance has come to you. I have 
a pride, too, David, a different kind of pride from theirs. 
You loved me first, I know, as I was — just me. It was 
a foolish love for you to have, David dear, — but I know 
it is true ; you could not have given yourself to save me 
else, and I like to keep that thought of you in my heart, 
big and noble and true — that you did love just me." 
She faltered, but still held him from her. "Do you think 
I would not do all I can to keep from spoiling your life 
over there "^ " 

"Stop, stop. It is enough," he cried. In spite of her- 
self, he took her hands in his and drew her to him in peni- 
tent tenderness. "I'm no great lord with wide distances 
between me and your mountain world here, Cassandra; 
never think it. I'm tremendously near to the soul of 
things, and the man of the wilderness is strong in me. 
One thing you have not touched upon. Tell me, what 
did Frale say or do to you to so trouble you and send you 
off?" 

She stirred in his arms and waited, then murmured, 
"He pestered me." 

"Explain. Did he come often ?" 

"Oh, no. He — I — he came one evening up to our 
cabin, and — I sent him off and started next day." 



310 The Mountain Girl 

*' But explain, dearest. How did he act ? What was it ? " 

She was silent, but drew her husband's head down and 
hid her face in his neck. "There ! Never mind, love. 
You needn't tell me if you don't wish." 

"He kissed me and held me in his arms like they were 
iron bands — and I hated it. He said you had gone away 
never to come back, and that the whole mountain side knew 
it ; and that he had a right to come and claim my promise 
to him. Oh, David, David, this is the last. I have kept 
nothing back from you now, nothing. My heart cried out 
for you — like I heard you call — and I went — to — to 
prove to them all that word was a lie. I knew nothing 
they said here could touch you, but I couldn't bear that 
the meanest hound living should dare think wrong of you. 
Seems like I would have done it if I had had to crawl on 
my knees and swim the ocean." 

"My fingers tingle to grasp the throat of that young 
man. I fought him for you once, and if it hadn't been for 
a rolling stone under my foot, it would have been death 
for one of us. As it was, I won — with you to save me 
— bless you." 

"Butnow, David— " 

"Ah, but now — what ? Are you happy ? " 

"That isn't what I mean. You have your future — " 

"I have my now. It is all we ever have. The past is 
gone, and lives only in our memories, and the future exists 
only in anticipation ; but now — now is all we have or 
can have. Live in it and love in it and be happy." 

"But we must be wise. We've got to face it sometime. 
Let — me help you — now while I have the strength," 
she pleaded earnestly. 

But David only laughed out joyously, and looked at his 
wife until she turned her face away from him. "Look 
at me," he cried. "Dear, troubled eyes. Tears? Tears 
in them ? Love, you have kept nothing back this time, 
and now it is my turn, but I shall keep something back 
from you. I'm not going to reprove your idolatry by turn- 
ing iconoclast and throwing your miserable old idol down 
from his pedestal all at once. I tell you what it is, though, 
if I could feel that I was worthy of your smallest finger — 
that I deserved only one of those big tears — there — 
there — there ! Listen, dearest, I'll come to the point. 



The Shadow Lifts 311 

"Who is it now, making so much of the estimates of 
the world ? Somehow our viewpoints have got mixed. 
Sacrifice myself ? Why, Cassandra, if I were to lose you 
out of my life, I should be a broken-hearted man. What 
did I sacrifice ? Phantoms, vanities, and emptiness. Oh, 
Cassandra, Cassandra, my priestess of all that is good ! 
Open your eyes, love, and see as I see — as you have 
taught me to see. 

" Much that we strive for and reckon as gain is really 
worthless. Why, sweet, I would far, far rather have you 
at your loom for the mother of my son, than Lady Clara 
at her piano. Your heritage of the great nature — the 
far-seeing — the trusting spirit — harboring no evil and 
construing all things to righteousness — going out into the 
world and finding among all the dust and dross, even of 
centuries, only the pure gold — the eye that sees into a 
man's soul, searching out the true and lovely qualities 
there and transmuting all the rest into pure metal — my 
own soul's alchemist — your heritage is the secret of 
power." 

'*! don't believe I understand all you are saying, David. 
I only see that I have a very hard task before me, and now I 
know it is hard for you, too. Your mother made it clear to 
me that your true place is not living here as a doctor, even 
though you do so much good among us. I saw all at once 
that men are born each to fill a place in the world, and I 
think each man's measure should be the height of his own 
power and ability, nothing lower than that; and I see it 

— your power will be there, not here, where it must be 
limited by our limits and ignorance. That is your own 
country over there. It claims you — and I — I — there 
is the difference, you know. Think of your mother, and 
then of mine. David, I must not — Oh, David ! You 
must be unhampered — free — what can I — what can 
wedo.^" 

"We can just go down the mountain, sane beings, to 
our own little cabin, belonging to each other first of all." 
He took her hand and led her along the path, carpeted with 
pine needles and fallen leaves. " And then, when you are 
ready and willing — not before, love — we will go home 

— to my home — just like this, together." 

She caught her breath. "Listen, for I am seeing visions 



312 The Mountain Girl 

too, now, as you have taught me. I will lead you through 
those halls and show you to all those dead ancestors, and 
I will dress you in a silken gown, the color of the evening 
star we used to watch together from our cabin door, and 
around your neck I will hang the yellow pearls that have 
been worn by all those great ladies who stared at you from 
out their frames of gold the day you came alone and 
unrecognized, bearing your priceless gift in your arms. 
You shall wear the rich old lace of the family on your 
bosom, and the jewelled coronet on your head ; and no one 
will see the silk and the jewels and the lace, for looking at 
you and at the gift you bring. 

*'No, don't speak ; it is my turn now to see the pictures. 
All will be yours, whatever you see and touch in those 
stately homes — for you will be the Lady Thryng, and, 
being the Lady Thryng, you will be no more wonderful 
or beautiful than you were when you climbed to me, 
following my flute notes, or w^hen you bent between me 
and the fire preparing my supper, or when you were weav- 
ing at your loom, or when you came to me from our cabin 
door with your arms outstretched and the light of all the 
stars of heaven in your eyes." 

Then they were silent, a long silence, until, seated to- 
gether in their cabin before a bright log fire, as she held 
their baby to her breast, Cassandra broke the stillness. 

"Now I see it better, David. As you came here and 
lived my life, and loved me just as I was — so to be truly 
one, I must go with you and live your life. I must not 
fail you there.'* 

"You have been tried as by fire and have not failed — 
nor are you the kind of woman who ever fails." 

Then she smiled up at him one of those rare and fleeting 
smiles that always touched David with poignant pleasure, 
and said : "I think I understand now. God meant us to 
feel this way, when he married us to each other." 



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